Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jules Olitski, 1922-2007

Jules Olitski, Comprehensive Dream. 1965. Acrylic on canvas, 135" x 93."

Jules Olitski died last week. He really got tarred with the same brush as Greenberg (who was still being hanged in effigy when I was in grad school in the late 90's). But when those ideological wars eventually fade away, I think people are going to have to take another look at the work, especially the spray-gun paintings from the 60's. I saw a show of these at Emmerich right before the gallery closed (1998 if memory serves), and they really knocked me out; misty but still vibrant like Venetian painting and every bit as lush and decadent as Rubens at his most excessive.

I think it's customary for one of the big institutions to mount a large-scale retrospective when an important figure dies; it will be interesting to see if lingering resentment of Greenberg and late Modernism prevents this from happening.