May 1, 2022 - January 1, 2023
The Barry Art Museum celebrates what would have been the 100th birthday of Ukrainian-born artist Jules Olitski (1922-2007), and the public debut of his 1989 painting “Love of Alexander.” The painting was made in memory of Alexander Gorby, the son of Olitski’s wife Kristina. This long-term loan was made possible by Ann Freedman of FreedmanArt and by Olitski’s stepdaughter, and sister to Alexander, Natasha Gorby Cebek.
Olitski was born in 1922 in the town of Snovsk, now part of Ukraine, shortly after his father was executed by the Soviet government. His remaining family fled famine, ending up in America. While Olitski wouldn’t have defined his work as political, the experience of loss was woven into his life and the dialectic of absence in many of his paintings evince a sense of yearning. “Love of Alexander” is over 6 feet by 8 feet, a sprawling example of his famed “mitt paintings,” produced with large, furry gloves. The immense size and energy and sheer volume of paint employed in this work speak to the artist’s lifelong pursuit of meaning through abstraction.