Catalog Essay | October 24, 2019 | Lot 101
In 1964 Richard Anuszkiewicz was called “the new wizard of Op” by Life magazine. Considered a leader in the Optical Art, “Op Art,” movement, Anuszkiewicz’ work was exhibited in the seminal 1965 exhibition “The Responsive Eye,” at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. His works create a psychological experience through the artist’s use of high-intensity color applied to a rigid mathematical composition. These explorations of light, color and line create a hypnotizing effect on the viewer.
Anuszkiewicz was born in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1930. He attended the Cleveland Institute of Art where he received his B.F.A. In 1953, he went to the National Academy of Design through a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship. He continued his studies at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut earning his M.F.A. and studying under Josef Albers. Albers, a well-known artist and master color theorist had an obvious influence on Anuszkiewicz’ work.
After completing his graduate degree, Anuszkiewicz moved to New York where he became a successful artist with his paintings of a set number of geometric configurations painted with dif-ferent high-intensity colors. In 1960 following a one-man show at The Contemporaries, MoMA purchased two of his paintings launching his career.
The present canvas is from 1961 and also exhibited at The Contemporaries gallery in New York City. Albers influence is apparent in the subtle color changes and repetition of forms. This work was included in a 2014 exhibition “An Albers Legacy,” at the Francis Frost Gallery in Newport, Rhode Island. It was also exhibited at the Yale University Art Gallery in 1993 in an exhibition “Yale Collects Yale.” This painting comes from the collection of prominent art historian and curator Theodore E. Stebbins, alum and curator of the Yale University Art Gallery from 1968-1977.
In the late 1960s and early 70s, these works helped build the nascent Op Art movement. Anuszkiewicz, together with Victor Vasarely in France, is considered one of the founders of Op Art. As an artist, Anuszkiewicz does not consider himself an Op artist as he is more interested in following the footsteps of his teacher, Albers.
Anuszkiewicz returned to the Midwest to pursue a degree in Education from Kent State University, where he would later teach. During this time, he dove into color experimentation using the full-intensity colors he best known for.
In 2000, Anuszkiewicz was the recipient of the famed Lee Krasner award and his works have been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Florence Biennale and Documenta. His works are collected in numerous private and public institutions including the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.