Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to present Jules Olitski: Mitt Paintings, March 6 – April 19, 2014 at 515 West 27th Street, New York. The exhibition is comprised of eleven “mitt pictures” made between 1988 and 1992 that showcase Olitski’s groundbreaking, tactile approach to painting. Many of the works have never been exhibited. Olitski created his mitt pictures by using his hands to spread paint across canvases in fluid movements that blended colors and created textural imprints that recorded his active gestures. A catalogue will be published at the time of the exhibition and will include a foreword by Olitski’s daughter Lauren Olitski and essays by Barbara Rose and Alex Grimley.
Known throughout his career for exploring new materials and techniques in painting, Olitski began making his mitt paintings in the late 1980s when Golden Artists Colors sent him a new kind of paint they had recently developed. Using painter's mitts left in his Bear Island studio by his wife Kristina he mixed the new paint with thick acrylic gels, and the mitt pictures were born. Much like the brooms, squeegees, and spray guns previously used by Olitski, the mitts quickly became an important tool, and one that proved to be a harbinger of further curiosity and experimentation.
The works were neither planned nor sketched in advance; they document the spontaneous and visceral decisions the artist made with his paint-soaked mitts. The iridescent pigments and many shades of shimmering colors shift with the viewer’s position and in response to light.
In an interview, Olitski explained “I never wanted to make… paintings to be seen at a single glance.” The essence of a “mitt picture” cannot be grasped in one look; the canvases’ surfaces and color must be viewed from different angles to experience the evocative illusions they form when merged together by Olitski’s hand.
The exhibition will coincide with Alexander the Great: The Iolas Gallery 1955-1987 at Paul Kasmin Gallery’s 293 10th Avenue location. That exhibition will celebrate 20th century art dealer Alexander Iolas and the artists whose careers he helped to shape, including Olitski.
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