JULES OLITSKI (1922-2007)
JULES OLITSKI (1922-2007)
JULES OLITSKI (1922-2007)
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JULES OLITSKI (1922-2007)

Riders of Zur

JULES OLITSKI (1922-2007)
Riders of Zur
signed, titled and dated 'RIDERS OF ZUR 1963 Jules Olitski' (on the overlap)
acrylic on canvas
45 x 47 ¾ in. (114.3 x 121.3 cm.)
Painted in 1963.
Private collection, gift of the artist
Private collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Further details
We are grateful to The Estate of Jules Olitski for its assistance in cataloguing this work.

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Lot Essay

“Painting is made from inside out. I think of painting as possessed by a structure—i.e., shape and size, support and edge—but a structure born of the flow of color feeling. Color in color is felt at any and every place of the pictorial organization; in its immediacy—its particularity. Color must be felt throughout.” Jules Olitski

Painted in 1963, Riders of Zur is a sublime example of Jules Olitski’s Core paintings, in which imposing, rudimentary shapes in brilliant colors emanate from contrasting monochrome backgrounds. These early works marked a dramatic and formative shift in the artist’s career and would begin his life-long investigation of color, form, and surface as a unified mode of expression. Olitzki’s biomorphic forms take on bright primary hues, bringing a sense of fervor and vivacity to the painted surface. Riders of Zur is imbued with energy from its core, with the central jet-black sphere nearly bursting through the central composition, the poignant pink that hovers gently around the central element, the forms appear repelled by the violaceous purple background, as if magnetic currents are keeping it at bay. Sparse cyan, mauve, and brown components radiate energy and add deep complexity and movement to the surface.

Never bound by a singular motif or approach, Olitski advances his painting in a lapidary way driven by experimentation, earning himself credit as the “greatest painter alive” according to the esteemed critic Clement Greenberg (C. Greenberg, in Jules Olitski: Communing with the Power, exh. cat., Vancouver, Buschlen Mowatt Gallery, 1989). The same year Riders of Zur was painted, Olitski participated in six museum exhibitions across the United States, and in just a year he would be included in the seminal Post Painterly Abstraction exhibition curated by Greenberg that began at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Olitski’s ground-breaking technique and radical mastery of color and form position him as a pillar of the Color Field movement, and Riders of Zur as a key example of Olitski’s ethos: “Color must be felt throughout” (J. Olitski, quoted in K. Moffet, Jules Olitski, New York, 1981, p. 214)

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