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RICHARD ANUSZKIEWICZ

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Richard Anuszkiewicz (1930 – 2020)  was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He went on to train at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio (1948 – 1953) and then at the Yale University School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut until 1955 when he graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts.

Anuskiewicz was an integral part of the Optical Art movement, a movement focused on the optical illusions that can be created by experimenting with colour and geometry. Anuskiewicz is best known for his investigations into the impact of high-intensity colours and geometric configurations on a viewer’s perception, frequently taking the style of his mentor Josef Albers’ best-known work and pushing these concepts further still. Anuskiewicz summarized his own work as an investigation into the “optical changes that occur as a result [of contemporary colours of full intensity]”. In 1955, he was exhibited in his first exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio, and he rose to prominence in the early 1960s as part of a group of other Op Artists, including Bridget Riley.

Anuskiewicz held his first solo exhibition in 1959 in The Contemporaries Gallery in New York. The breakthrough moment came when a representative of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) walked in and made a purchase. Other private collectors rapidly followed suit. Anuskiewicz held a second show in 1961 at The Contemporaries Gallery and was featured in the influential 1962 exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, titled Geometric Abstraction in America. He was exhibited at MoMa’s 1963 exhibition Americans, after which Time Magazine ran a feature on him. The following year, Life magazine ran an article in which they called him “the new Wizard of Op,” and it was clear that his career was on a rapidly rising trajectory.

In 1965, Anuskiewicz was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s The Responsive Eye. This was the largest yet exhibit focusing on the exciting new trend of Op Art and the illusory visual effects of Anuskiewicz and his contemporaries’ work.  From 1965-1975 Anuszkiewicz was taken under the wing of wealthy art collector Sidney Janis, who included him in the important Pop and Op exhibition alongside Josef Albers and Andy Warhol. Anuskiewicz continued to exhibit regularly throughout his career, experimenting with sculpture in the late 1960s and holding consecutive solo shows at the Janis Gallery in the 1970s. He was included at the Florence Biennale in 2005, for which he received the Lorenzo de Medici Career Award.

 He is collected worldwide, including being held at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Flint Institute of Arts, the Fogg Museum, Harvard University; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of Art, New York.

 

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