A while back I wrote about painter Elisabeth Condon’s excellent show at Lesley Heller, and I forgot to mention that Condon also writes a terrific blog called Raggedy Ann’s Foot. I love her writing, which is both enthusiastic and informed. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post about the Jules Olitski show at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City.
What a week of great shows! In Kansas City, the Olitski survey at the Kemper Museum stopped me cold. The various periods of Olitski’s development were fascinating for their exploration of acrylics, particularly the sprayed ones, which toyed with the illusionistic effects of dispersion, but there was a fussiness about the border of each painting that drove me nuts. They reminded me of the posters from my college job in LA at the “postmodern” furniture and frame store in LA. My enjoyment of the earlier works was primarily historical, a join-the-dots experience. Then, like a crescendo of unexpected force, came four transcendent works from 2002, With Love and Disregard–that demanded at least an hour to absorb their chromatic fullness, their compositional depth and heft. What color, light, surface, abandon! Olitski didn’t stop pushing the paint, ever–the results are fissured, planetary realms with complex spatial shifts. Thrilling to see a painter in his 80s hit his stride! Also enthralling to see someone play recklessly with the possibilities of their life’s work and come up with something so convincing. It was like watching his brain move through his hand, which is the embodied value of painting. In the final four paintings, there was no false note, regret; they were sure-footed risks. This was not true throughout the show due to the fussiness of earlier work; thus meant the more. Olitski was a whole-hearted explorer! What inspires is that he found this in summary, not early on. And these are GREAT paintings, filled with ideas and images.
Raggedy Ann’s Foot: Notes on geographical and cultural landscapes
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