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Ilya Bolotowsky (American, 1907-1981)

Art

Also known as:  Boltovsky, Ilya

Birth Place: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Biography:

Who was painter Ilya Bolotowksy?

Ilya Bolotowsky was a painter and one of the founders of the abstract movement in America during the early and middle parts of the twentieth century. He was one of the first to adopt cubism and geometric abstraction. He was one of the art group The Ten Whitney Dissenters (later known as The Ten) who also included other luminaries like Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko. 

Bolotowsky created the Williamsburg Housing Project’s mural as part of the Federal Art Project in 1936. He didn’t have his first solo show until 1974, at the Guggenheim Museum. This exhibition eventually made its way to the National Collection of Fine Arts. His work has also been exhibited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA of NYC, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center -- the last of which Bolotowsky taught at for two years in the 1940s.

What kind of art does Ilya Bolotowsky make?

Ilya Bolotowsky created geometric abstractionist paintings that were heavily influenced by the work of Mondrian. He fought for decades to legitimize the aesthetics of the De Stijl movement, which focused on creating an ideal order for the visual arts. His paintings were often restricted to only primary colors and neutrals. In the 1930s, Bolotowsky co-founded the American Abstract Artists cooperative, which helped promote abstract painting to the general public. He taught for a few years at Black Mountain College, an experimental in North Carolina. Bolotowsky didn’t receive the recognition he rightly deserved during his lifetime, but his work has been well-received post-humously. 

How did painter Ilya Bolotowsky get started?

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, the young Ilya Bolotowsky immigrated to the US in 1923. He attended the National Academy of Design where he quickly joined the infamous “Ten Whitney Dissenters” along with other notables like Joseph Solman and Mark Rothko. They formed this group to rebel against the prejudice and strictures of the National Academy of Design’s policy against independent exhibitions. During his time in school, Bolotowsky would be exposed to the work of Piet Mondrian, an influence that would hold strong sway for the rest of Bolotowsky’s life. He spent the next three decades making art and teaching at various colleges around the country. His first solo museum show wouldn’t be until 1974 -- only seven years before his death. 

How much are Ilya Bolotowsky paintings worth?

Ilya Bolotowsky’s paintings are worth thousands of dollars. On the high end, this can mean that pieces are well over the $50,000 mark. His highest-selling piece at auction is Untitled (1946) which sold for $75,000 on June 10th, 2015. It is a piece that is obviously influenced by the artist’s obsession with Mondrian, but with a flare and color choice that is totally original. This sales price blew even the high estimate away by over four times the amount estimated ($15,000). 

Where to buy Ilya Bolotowsky paintings for sale?

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How to value Ilya Bolotowsky paintings?

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