Monday, March 27, 2017

Julian Stanczak (1928-2017)

Julian Stanczak, globally renowned Op artist based in Cleveland, has died at age 88 
SEVEN HILLS, Ohio - Julian Stanczak, a native of Poland who survived World War II as a child to become a globally renowned exponent of Op Art and a revered professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art, died Saturday morning at his home here at age 88.
Barbara Stanczak, the artist's wife and a respected abstract sculptor and former Cleveland Institute of Art professor, shared the news of her husband's death in an email to more than 80 friends and associates across the art world just after 9 p.m. Saturday.
"I want to let you know that Julian is in paradise now," she wrote. "He has found peace after an exciting life filled with tragedies as well as many blessings, success, hard work and glorious visions which he communicated through his art."
Reached at home late Saturday, Barbara Stanczak said her husband died under hospice care after having been treated for pneumonia and other illnesses.
"Everybody knows he was a unique human being, not only a talented artist, but as a person, unsurpassed," she said.
 Working through pain
Despite suffering great pain in recent years from injuries suffered as a child in a Soviet labor camp, Stanczak continued to turn out astonishingly precise and meltingly beautiful geometric abstractions that radiated serenity, calm and a sense of wonder about light, color and the visual energy of linear patterns.
And, after decades in which his work and that of other Op Artists was viewed with enormous disfavor, if not ridicule, Stanczak lived long enough to see a complete turnaround in the art world's view of his art.
Over the past decade and a half, Stanczak's work was the subject of more than 20 exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe and numerous publications including a 320-page monograph written by Polish art historian Marta Smolinska published in Polish and English in 2014.
Prices for Stanczak's work have also skyrocketed in recent years, reaching as high as $300,000. 
In 2012, Bloomberg-Artnet listed Stanczak as No. 6 on its list of the 15 "hottest artists" in the world, based on percentage increases in prices from the starting year of 2000. 
During the past decade, Julian Stanczak's art has been enthusiastically rediscovered by museums, galleries and collectors.
"I am numb," Stanczak said in a 2009 interview at his home and studio in Seven Hills. "Once you get older, you look at it with a cat's smile. It's very pleasant, but where have you been all this time when I needed you?"
Cleveland artist Julian Stanczak, who rocketed to fame as a progenitor of Op Art in the 1960s, is enjoying renewed acclaim.
Stanczak was a diminutive man who lived an epic life. He escaped from the Soviet labor camp in Perm, Siberia in 1942 at age 14 and traveled through Teheran, Iran and India; before living out the war years in British-controlled Uganda, where he nurtured dreams of becoming an artist.
Rise to greatness
Stanczak later studied art in London, England. He emigrated to the United States in 1950 and earned a bachelor's degree in art at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1954. He then proceeded to Yale University, where his professors included the famous former Bauhaus instructor Josef Albers.
After completing his master-of-fine-arts degree at Yale in 1956, Stanczak took a teaching position in Cincinnati, where he lived until he moved to Seven Hills in 1964, with his wife.
They turned a modest, mid-century home into a comfortable modernist-style refuge filled with artworks and with furniture that Stanczak built by hand. And they raised their children,  Christopher and Danusia and cared for Stanczak's aging parents, who moved into the house across the back yard    
In a large studio on the rear of the house, Stanczak produced vibrant geometric abstractions with precise linear and geometric patterns in scintillating hues and patterns.
Creating with one arm
Amazingly, he did it all with the use of only his left hand and arm.
He was a unique human being, not only a talented artist, but as a person, unsurpassed.
After Soviet troops occupied his hometown of Borownica, Poland, Stanczak was deported at age 11 with family members to the labor camp in Siberia.
He was beaten so severely there that he lost the use of his right arm - a terrible fate for a future artist who was right-handed.
"I still dream I am using my right arm," Stanczak said in a 2009 interview at his home and studio. "Then in my dreams, I correct myself."
Stanczak made up for his handicap in numerous ways including his construction of rotary cutting device made of gears, spools and blades that allowed him to slice strips of masking tape he needed for his abstractions in highly precise widths.
Stanczak's type of art was so precise that deviations from perfection would have drawn the eye to any flaws.
Yet Stanczak achieved extreme precision both in his taping and painting techniques and in his ability to mix colors in highly subtle gradients of hue and light-dark value.
Early spotlight
In 1965, Stanczak participated with artists such as Victor VasarelyBridget Riley and Richard Anuszkiewicz in "The Responsive Eye," the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that made Op Art an instant sensation.
Stanczak later said Op Art "is nothing but scrutiny of how we go about seeing -- how much is sight, how much is mental interpretation."
After a surge of popularity in which Op Art patterns appeared on everything from album covers to apparel, the movement suddenly fell into eclipse as a victim of rapidly changing art world movements and styles.
Roller coaster reactions
The leading critic and art historian Barbara Rose wrote at the time that, "Op Art goes Pop [Art] one better by being considerably more mindless."
Barbara Stanczak said viewed such harsh attacks to be the work of "throat-cutters."
Despite being considered quaintly irrelevant by critics and curators for nearly three decades, Stanczak continued to pursue his vision.
"Having those 30 years of anonymity in Cleveland and being away from New York made his work stronger," Barbara Stanczak said in a 2009 interview.
Beloved teacher
Meanwhile, he became a highly respected instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he taught from X to Y, and where his students included future luminaries such as the landscape painter April Gornik, and Dana Schutz, known for her bold, imaginary visions.
Barbara Stanczak's email announcing her husband's death was addressed to Gornik, Grafton Nunes, president of the Cleveland Institute of Art, and numerous collectors, art dealers and artists.
In addition to his wife, Stanczak is survived by his brother, Mark Stanczak, and his daughter-in-law, Mary Stanczak, both of Seven Hills; a son, Christopher Stanczak, of Los Angeles; a daughter, Danusia Casteel, of Norton, Ohio; two grandchildren and a great grandson.
Arrangements are in care of Ferfolia Funeral Home in Aurora. Donations may be made to the Julian Stanczak Scholarship Fund at the Cleveland. Institute of

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Peter Halley Gouaches on View at Karma, New York

Peter Halley
Boats Crosses Trees Figures
Gouaches 1977–78

March 1–31, 2017

188 East 2nd Street
New York, NY 10009

Karma is pleased to announce Peter Halley, Boats Crosses Trees Figures, a survey of the artist’s early works on paper produced in 1977 and 1978, during his years living in New Orleans.

In these gouaches and cut-paper collages, color-saturated grids of squares and rectangles are assembled into a lexicon of symbolic representations of landscapes, boats, teepees, crosses, and the human figure. The works draw from an exuberant range of sources including Navajo and Hopi traditions, Islamic art and architecture, West African textiles, the paper cut-outs of Henri Matisse, and even David Hockney’s waggish LA paintings of the 1960s.

Embracing an ebullient anthropological romanticism, these works of the late 70s stand in stark contrast to the pessimism soon to appear in Halley’s austere works of the 1980s, with their emphasis on the here-and-now of a society dominated by capitalism and digital technology.

As described in Richard Speer’s catalogue essay, “Before the Fall,” Halley’s use of high-keyed geometry in these New Orleans works persists, even though his world view becomes radically transformed. The idyllic vision that the artist, then in his 20s, constructed in verdant New Orleans gives way to the postlapsarian dystopia of New York, the Reagan era, and the digital carceral.

A new publication cataloguing Halley's gouaches with a text by Richard Speer has been published on the occasion of the exhibition. 

Peter Halley, Boats Crosses Trees Figures 1977-78
Text by Richard Speer
Karma, New York, 2017
136 pages, Hardcover
10 1/4 x 12 1/4 inches
$40 Purchase

Matthew Kolodziej Exhibition at the University of Mount Union

Matthew Kolodziej

Intervals:  Small Works

March 3 - April 2, 2017

Reception March 16, 4-6 pm

Sally Otto Gallery
University of Mount Union

Giese Center for the Performing Arts
35 W. Simpson Street

Alliance, OH 44601

Matthew Kolodziej, Storage, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 17 inches

Matthew Kolodziej, Slice, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 17 inches

Matthew Kolodziej, Lumen (detail), 2016

Matthew Kolodziej Included in Exhibition at Cleveland State University

The Galleries at Cleveland State University
1307 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH  44115\216-687-2103

Exhibition:  March 10 - April 15, 2017
An exhibition exploring color as a primary perceptual phenomenon with works by:

Audra Skuodas  
Julian Stanczak  
Matthew Kolodziej 
Lorri Ott  
Rachel Beamer  
Lynda Britton  
Dennis Long  
Paul O’Keeffe  
Lorri Ott  
John Pearson
Qian Li 
Douglas Sanderson  
Anna Tararova 

Matthew Kolodziej, Muses, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 108 x 180 inches

Matthew Kolodziej, Muses (detail)

Matthew Kolodziej, Muses (as installed)