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Photo: Richard Anuszkiewicz, Loretta Howard Gallery
Tribute to Richard Anuszkiewicz
The Op Art Master Died at age 89 on May 19th
"Geometry and color represent to me an idealized classical place that's very clear and very pure."
Richard Anuszkiewicz
Op Art is a movement of the mid-20th century that uses optical illusion, mostly abstract, to mesmerize the viewer. It uses color contrast, figure/ground, foreground/background perceptual devices to create patterns and special effects.

Time magazine coined the term in 1964 and now we count artists like Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley and Julian Stanczak as its leaders. Life magazine called Anuszkiewicz “The New Wizard of Op.” Although first dismissed by art critics, but always loved by the public, Op Art proudly holds its place in contemporary art.
Photo: U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson and U.S. Senator  J. William Fulbright  inspect "Squaring the Circle", a bright red 1963 painting by  Richard Anuszkiewicz , at the 1965  White House Arts Festival ., June 14, 1965. US-PD
American Op Art painter Richard Anuszkiewicz (he pronounced it ah-noo-SHKEV-ich) was born in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1930. His parents were Polish immigrants and his father worked in the local paper mill. His talent in art was evident at a young age and he got his BFA at the Cleveland Institute for the Arts, including a Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship. He then studied with Josef Albers at Yale and earned his MFA there in 1955. He credits Albers for teaching him the abstraction and color theories that lead Anuszkiewicz to be one of the top Op Art masters.
Photos: In 2017,Franklin Hill Perrell and Debbie Wells co-curated Fool The Eye exhibition at the Nassau County Museum of Art and dedicated a gallery room to Op Art. The Anuszkiewicz painting, Magenta Fire,1978-2015 was on exhibition courtesy of Loretta Howard Gallery; Franklin lectures to an Artful Circle group in NYC about Op Art, with a Anuszkiewicz as a great example behind him.
In 1957, he moved to New York City and got a job restoring and assembling models of classical sculpture and architecture at the Junior Museum of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

When he tried to break into the art gallery scene, dealers first turned him down explaining that his abstract work was not eye-pleasing. His big break came in 1959, when Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Founding Director of the Museum of Modern Art, purchased his paintings, including one for New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller.

By the 1960s, he created his signature precise geometric style and was included in two major American art exhibitions: "Geometric Abstraction in America" at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1962 and "Americans 1963: at MoMA. By 1965, blue chip Sidney Janis Gallery was representing Anuszkiewicz! Photo: Anuszkiewicz in his studio, 1965, D. Wigmore Fine Art
His style consists of hard edge shapes that repeat, vibrate and move, creating an optical effect that plays with perception. By forcing the eye to follow carefully composed juxtapositions of color and line, the artist establishes an intense dynamic between eye, brain, and emotion.

His work is so meticulously and mechanically executed, it is hard to imagine it was done by the human hand. He used some aids, such as masking tape, to keep the edges precise. By carefully applying thin masking tape strips, Anuszkiewicz was able to achieve Op Art perfection with razor sharp lines.

Even though his paintings have machine-like purity, Anuszkiewicz saw his process as more conceptual than technical. He considered himself a problem solver, starting with a mathematical idea and then manipulating and experimenting with color and light.
Photo: Gallery owner Loretta Howard explains the Op Art creative process to an Artful Circle group at the "RIchard Anuszkiewicz: Temple Series II" exhibition in 2019. An installation shot of the exhibition.
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