Jules OLITSKI | Prince Patutsky's command

Jules OLITSKI
Russia 1922 – United States of Americ 2007

Prince Patutsky's command 1966 synthetic polymer paint on canvas
no inscriptions
418.2 (h) x 179.0 (w) cm Purchased 1981 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
NGA 1981.367 © Jules Olitski. Licensed by VAGA & VISCOPY, Australia

  • the artist;
  • from whom bought by Henry Geldzahler, New York, 1967;
  • with Andr√© Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1974;
  • through whom bought by the Australian National Gallery, February 1981
  • XXXIII Biennale di Venezia
    • American Pavilion 18 Jun 1966 – 16 Oct 1966
  • Jules Olitski: Paintings 1963-1967
    • Corcoran Gallery of Art 28 Apr 1967 – 11 Jun 1967
    • Pasadena Art Museum 01 Aug 1967 – 10 Sep 1967
    • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 26 Sep 1967 – 05 Nov 1967
  • Abstract Expressionism: the National Gallery of Australia celebrates the centenaries of Jackson Pollock and Morris Louis
    • 14 Jul 2012 – 24 Feb 2013
  • David Scott, 'America's role in the biennale', The Art Gallery, vol. 9, June 1966, p.10;
  • Henry Geldzahler, 'Frankenthaler, Kelly, Lichtenstein, Olitski: A preview of the American selection at the 1966 Venice biennale', Artforum vol. 9 no. 10, June 1966, pp. 32–38, illus. col.;
  • Barbara Rose, American art since 1900, London: Thames and Hudson 1967, p. 228, illus. col.;
  • Andrew Hudson, 'On Jules Olitski's paintings—and some changes of view', Art International vol. 12 no. 1, 20 January 1968, pp. 31–36;
  • Kenworth Moffett, Jules Olitski, New York: Harry N. Abrams 1981, p. 58;
  • James Mollison and Laura Murray (eds), Australian National Gallery: An introduction, Canberra: Australian National Gallery 1982, p. 68, illus. col.;
  • Michael Lloyd and Michael Desmond, European and American paintings and sculptures 1870–1970 in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra: Australian National Gallery 1992, pp. 364–366, illus. col.

In the early months of 1965, Olitski began to use a spray gun to apply paint to his canvases. He had previously used sponges and paint rollers to put down broad areas of colour, but found that the overlapping layers of colour tended to neutralise each other. By spraying on the paint, Olitski preserved the richness and purity of each colour, while achieving an expansive and seamless surface. In these paintings he continued and developed his compositional practice of confining incident to the periphery of the canvas, usually by defining an edge, or edges, with a stripe of paint or a line of pastel of a different colour.

During the winter of 1965–66 Olitski began to mask out areas of the painting along two or, sometimes, three sides during the painting process, thus creating borders like internal frames within the painting. He would also cut more than one work from the same roll of sprayed canvas, using the process of stretching as a kind of editing to achieve his desired effect. Prince Patutsky's command, painted in the winter of 1965–66, is typical of this group of paintings, with its ghost-like border across the lower and left sides of the canvas. It was cut from the same stretch of sprayed canvas as the painting Unlocked.[1]

Olitski used the name Patutsky in the titles of several of his paintings from the mid 1960s. He recalled that his stepfather’s name for him as a child was ‘Prince Patutsky’, and believed that it was in reference to Count Stanislaw Feliks Potocki (pronounced Poh-tuht-ski)  (1752–1805).[2] In the eighteenth century, the Potocki family were among the most prominent ‘republicans’ opposing the Polish kings Augustus II and Augustus III. Stanislaw Potocki dreamed of transforming Poland into a federal republic, following the example of the United States. Olitski wrote that his stepfather’s manner of calling him Prince Patutsky conjured up an image of ‘aristocratic bearing, courtly manner, excessive fastidiousness’.[3]

Michael Lloyd and Michael Desmond, European and American paintings and sculptures 1870–1970 in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra: Australian National Gallery 1992, pp. 364–366

[1] Collection Robert Eichholz, Washington DC; first noticed by Andrew Hudson, ‘On Jules Olitski’s paintings—and some changes of view’, Art International vol. 12 no. 1, January 1968, pp. 31–36

[2] Jules Olitski, correspondence of February 1984 with the National Gallery of Australia, NGA file 73/3278

[3] Olitski, NGA file 73/3278

 
Literature
  • David Scott, 'America's role in the biennale', The Art Gallery, vol. 9, June 1966, p.10;
  • Henry Geldzahler, 'Frankenthaler, Kelly, Lichtenstein, Olitski: A preview of the American selection at the 1966 Venice biennale', Artforum vol. 9 no. 10, June 1966, pp. 32–38, illus. col.;
  • Barbara Rose, American art since 1900, London: Thames and Hudson 1967, p. 228, illus. col.;
  • Andrew Hudson, 'On Jules Olitski's paintings—and some changes of view', Art International vol. 12 no. 1, 20 January 1968, pp. 31–36;
  • Kenworth Moffett, Jules Olitski, New York: Harry N. Abrams 1981, p. 58;
  • James Mollison and Laura Murray (eds), Australian National Gallery: An introduction, Canberra: Australian National Gallery 1982, p. 68, illus. col.;
  • Michael Lloyd and Michael Desmond, European and American paintings and sculptures 1870–1970 in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra: Australian National Gallery 1992, pp. 364–366, illus. col.
Discussion of the work

In the early months of 1965, Olitski began to use a spray gun to apply paint to his canvases. He had previously used sponges and paint rollers to put down broad areas of colour, but found that the overlapping layers of colour tended to neutralise each other. By spraying on the paint, Olitski preserved the richness and purity of each colour, while achieving an expansive and seamless surface. In these paintings he continued and developed his compositional practice of confining incident to the periphery of the canvas, usually by defining an edge, or edges, with a stripe of paint or a line of pastel of a different colour.

During the winter of 1965–66 Olitski began to mask out areas of the painting along two or, sometimes, three sides during the painting process, thus creating borders like internal frames within the painting. He would also cut more than one work from the same roll of sprayed canvas, using the process of stretching as a kind of editing to achieve his desired effect. Prince Patutsky's command, painted in the winter of 1965–66, is typical of this group of paintings, with its ghost-like border across the lower and left sides of the canvas. It was cut from the same stretch of sprayed canvas as the painting Unlocked.[1]

Olitski used the name Patutsky in the titles of several of his paintings from the mid 1960s. He recalled that his stepfather’s name for him as a child was ‘Prince Patutsky’, and believed that it was in reference to Count Stanislaw Feliks Potocki (pronounced Poh-tuht-ski)  (1752–1805).[2] In the eighteenth century, the Potocki family were among the most prominent ‘republicans’ opposing the Polish kings Augustus II and Augustus III. Stanislaw Potocki dreamed of transforming Poland into a federal republic, following the example of the United States. Olitski wrote that his stepfather’s manner of calling him Prince Patutsky conjured up an image of ‘aristocratic bearing, courtly manner, excessive fastidiousness’.[3]

Michael Lloyd and Michael Desmond, European and American paintings and sculptures 1870–1970 in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra: Australian National Gallery 1992, pp. 364–366

[1] Collection Robert Eichholz, Washington DC; first noticed by Andrew Hudson, ‘On Jules Olitski’s paintings—and some changes of view’, Art International vol. 12 no. 1, January 1968, pp. 31–36

[2] Jules Olitski, correspondence of February 1984 with the National Gallery of Australia, NGA file 73/3278

[3] Olitski, NGA file 73/3278