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Jules Olitski (American, 1922-2007)

Also known as:  Demikov, Jules; Demikovosky, Jevel

Birth Place: Snovsk, USSR

Biography:

Who is painter Jules Olitski?

Jules Olitski was an American painter and sculptor who is most closely associated with the Color Field and Lyrical Abstractionist movements of the 20th century. Olitski’s career encompassed the entire second half of the last century, constantly developing new techniques and aesthetics up until his death in 2007. Olitski’s large-scale, spray-painted sculptures brought widespread recognition to his art during the 1960s. He was the first-ever living American artist to be given a one-person exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jules Olitski received countless awards and honors during his lifetime. He won a Carnegie International Prize in the 1960s, was elected to the National Academy of Design, and was the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates. In his New York Times obituary, his work garnered effusive praise as, “an important late development in the American Abstraction, and a precursor to Minimalism.” His paintings are in the collections of most major museums and galleries, including the Met, the Guggenheim, as well as the Modern Museum of Art in New York.

What kind of art did Jules Olitski make?

Jules Olitski is a painter best known for his Color Field paintings of the early 1960s -- especially during the years of 1962 - 1964. During that time, Color Field paintings experienced a surge in popularity. While Olitski did change his style several more times during his career, his popularity would never again reach the peak that it did during those years. Olitski was also an accomplished sculptor whose work was featured in a one-person exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Famously, the art critics Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried were champions of Olitski’s work. Greenberg said, “Olitski has turned out what I don’t hesitate to call masterpieces in every phase of his art.” Olitski produced work up until his death in 2007.

How did painter Jules Olitski get started?

Born in Ukraine, Jules Olitski’s father was executed before the artist was born. As a boy, he was able to escape the country with his mother and grandmother. They traveled to the United States in 1923, eventually settling in New York City. His mother remarried and Jules changed his name to Olitski from its original “Olitsky”. He showed signs of painting talent at an early age, and enrolled at the National Academy of Design School, then later the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York City. He followed this with studies at the famed Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. By 1951, he had held his first one-man show in the City of Lights. He returned to New York in the 1960s and received a master’s in Art Education from NYU. His breakout came after his first solo show at the Alexander Iolas Gallery in New York -- winning praise from several notable New York art critics at that time.

How much are Jules Olitski paintings worth?

Jules Olitski’s paintings have an extremely wide range of worth, from only a few thousand for minor works, but up to $500,000 for major pieces -- especially from his famed 1962 -1964 period. The most ever paid for a Jules Olitski painting at auction is $554,500 for the piece Arnolfini Baby! (1964) which sold on November 11th, 2010. It is from Olitski’s most famous period. In fact, every one of Olitski’s top ten highest selling paintings is from this time period. Collectors would be wise to snatch up an Olitski when one becomes available at auction.

Where to buy Jules Olitksi paintings for sale?

See the works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on the artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Jules Olitski paintings?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.


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