Jules Olitski

Instant Loveland


Not on display

Jules Olitski 1922–2007
Acrylic paint on canvas
Support: 2946 × 6457 mm
Presented by Kasmin Ltd 1997


Instant Loveland is one of the largest canvases Olitski has ever painted. From 1966, he began placing a greater emphasis on colour and explored the framing-edge. Along the top and sides of this work, coloured lines define the edge of what otherwise appears a film of delicate, tonally related colours (pinks, purples and greens). The surface of the canvas is emphasised by the spiky texture created in places by the varying densities of pigment. In his statement for the 1966 Venice Biennale, 'Painting In Colour', Olitski wrote: 'When the conception of internal form is governed by edge, color ... appears to remain on or above the surface. I think, on the contrary, of colour as being seen in and throughout, not solely on, the surface'.

The critic Rosalind Krauss, in her catalogue essay for the exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia 1968, a show which included Instant Loveland, wrote [p.4]:

Because the seeing of the surface is tied to the perception of a kind of color which so opens and expands that surface toward the viewer that it might be characterized as foreshortened, the very seeing of the painting in all its literalness poses a question about where the surface is. To see Olitski's color means to see the surface itself as elusive and unaligned.
It was these qualities of surface and edge, and colour and line, which Krauss used to place Olitski's art in relation to the work of his contemporaries and in the history of modernism.

Further reading:
Jules Olitski, 'Painting In Colour', Artforum, vol.5, no.5, Jan. 1967, p.20
Rosalind E. Krauss, Jules Olitski: Recent Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia 1968

Terry Riggs
October 1997

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Display caption

Jules Olitski was one of the principal exponents of Colour Field painting, which involved using flat expanses of colour, and rejecting illusions of depth and the emphatic brushwork of Abstract Expressionism. Olitski's large scale canvases are covered in delicate mists of colour that give the works an all-over unity and a sense of continuation beyond the frame. The paintings have an ethereal quality, appearing to dematerialise the canvas surface. Olitski said he would prefer 'nothing but some colours sprayed into the air and staying there.'

Gallery label, September 2004

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Technique and condition

The painting was executed in acrylic paint on a medium-weight cotton duck canvas, attached to a wooden stretcher by steel staples along the edges and back. The 36 member stretcher is a turn buckle stretcher with tite-joint fasteners at each joint, typical of the Lebron stretcher bar system design. The canvas does not have a size or priming layer.

Olitski began to develop the technique of spray painting onto unprimed canvas in 1965, a method of application that allowed him to paint large surfaces rapidly. Working initially with three spray guns simultaneously to create different densities of colour, by the time he came to paint Instant Loveland three years later, he was using only a single spray gun with a variety of nozzles for more control. The canvas was laid out on the floor and previous staple holes along the edges indicate it was tacked out before the paint was applied. The spray gun contained Aqua-tec acrylic emulsion paint, thickened with acrylic gel medium for a greater viscosity. The thicker drops of paint from the spray gun produced a mosaic-like effect on the unprimed surface, followed by several further applications that gradually blended the colour into an opaque and iridescent covering as metallic and pearlescent powder were mixed in with the paint. The impasted area to the left of the painting consists of gel-thickened paint, built up in relief and sprayed with paint consistent with the density of colour in that area of the painting. The perimeter markings along the bottom and side edges were made with brushstrokes of acrylic paint, beneath and on top of the sprayed coat. The canvas was stretched onto the stretcher after completion of the painting.

The painting is in good condition and is unframed.

Jo Crook
October 1997

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