Revelation: Major Paintings by Jules Olitski on view at KC’s Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Exhibition opens with free, public reception 5:30–7:30 p.m., Friday, May 20.

The exhibition Revelation: Major Paintings by Jules Olitski draws together more than thirty important works from public and private collections and presents an overview of Jules Olitski’s career in painting. This is the first exhibition of the artist’s paintings since his death in 2007. On view May 20–August 21, 2011 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the exhibition then travels in 2012 to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; and the American University Museum, Washington, D.C. The exhibition was organized by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by art historians E. A. Carmean Jr., Alison de Lima Greene, and Karen Wilkin. Admission to the Kemper Museum is free.

Jules Olitski (1922–2007) first received international acclaim as a Color Field painter and continued to experiment with techniques and processes throughout his career. Together, the exhibition’s works span five decades of Olitski’s creative output. The exhibition’s curators have organized the exhibition of groupings of
Stain paintings, Spray paintings, Baroque paintings, High Baroque paintings, and the artist’s Late paintings.

Olitski’s signature Color Field paintings, including the Kemper Museum’s Prince Patutszky Pleasures (1962), were created in the late 1950s and 1960s and feature bold colors and flat graphic shapes. This was a pivotal time for Olitski. He had his first solo exhibition in New York in 1958, and his works attracted the
attention of influential art critic Clement Greenberg, who championed the artist’s work for decades. In 1963, he began teaching at Bennington College in Vermont where he became close friends with fellow Color Field painter Kenneth Noland as well as artists David Smith, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, and Anthony Caro. The artists often exchanged ideas and visited each other’s studios and exhibitions.

Later in the1960s, Olitski wanted to create a sense of weightless and suspended color. He began using a spray gun to apply paint to his canvases and created his
large-scale Spray paintings. In 1966, Olitski represented the United States in the 33rd Venice Biennale along with artists Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein, and Ellsworth Kelly. Remaining faithful to abstraction throughout his career, Olitski explored textures with iridescent colors in the 1970s and 1980s and at times used mops, brooms, and mitts to apply paint. In the last decade of his life, “the artist expressed an almost unbridled sense of freedom and drama, at once timeless, lurid, and perhaps even audacious,” notes Kemper Museum Director Rachael Blackburn Cozad in the exhibition’s catalogue.

Jules Olitski was born in 1922 in the Ukraine as Jevel Demikovsky. It was after he and his family immigrated to the United States in 1926 and his mother remarried that he changed his name to Jules Olitsky, which later evolved into Jules Olitski. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and then studied art in Paris on the GI Bill between 1949 and 1951 at the Ossip Zadkine School and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Olitski later earned a B.A. and an M.A. in art education from New York University. After teaching for many years first at C. W. Post College on Long Island, NY, and then at Bennington College, Olitski devoted himself fully to painting, printmaking, and sculpture at his studio in Vermont and later in Bear Island, New Hampshire, and Islamorada, Florida.

In 1967, he was awarded the Corcoran Gold Medal and William A. Clark Award at the 30th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Painters at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The Corcoran then organized a major exhibition of his works that also traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Art, and in 1973, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston organized a retrospective that traveled to the Albright-Knox Gallery of Art in Buffalo, NY, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY. Since then, his works have been included in hundreds of exhibitions and may be found in collections around the world from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to Florence’s Uffizi Portrait Gallery.

A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue accompanies the exhibition Revelation: Major Paintings by Jules Olitski and includes essays by E. A. Carmean Jr.,
independent curator and former curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; Alison de Lima Greene, curator of contemporary art and special projects at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Karen Wilkin, independent curator and regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and Art in America; as well as select writings by Olitski. The catalogue will be available for $40 in May through the Museum Shop at www.kemperart.org.

About the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Kansas City’s renowned free modern and contemporary art museum, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 1994 and draws more than 120,000 visitors each year. The Museum boasts a rapidly growing permanent collection and in three locations—Kemper Museum, Kemper at the Crossroads, and Kemper East. Admission is free to all locations.

The Kemper Museum (4420 Warwick Blvd.) is open 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Tuesday–Thursday; 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m., Friday–Saturday; and 11:00
a.m.–5:00 p.m., Sunday. Café Sebastienne serves lunch 11:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday; and dinner 5:30–9:00 p.m., Friday–Saturday. The Museum and Café are closed on Mondays and major holidays.

Kemper at the Crossroads (33 West 19th Street) is open noon–8:00 p.m., Friday and noon–6:00 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. The galleries of Kemper East (200 E. 44th Street) are open 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Tuesday–Friday.

Support for Kemper Museum exhibitions is generously provided by Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee; Francis Family Foundation; Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, Commerce Bank, Trustee; David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation; William T. Kemper Foundation—Commerce Bank, Trustee; ArtsKC Fund—Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City; DST Systems, Inc.; and Sosland Foundation.

Frontier Airlines is the official airlines of the Kemper Museum.

Formore information about the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, visit www.kemperart.org.

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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