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Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. Published in hard copy 2-4 times a year. New shows: "events;" hard copy rates & how to support the online edition: "works."


EVE OLITSKI (1948-2012)

I am sorry to report the unexpected death of Eve Olitski, elder sister of Lauren Olitski Poster , and daughter of Jules Olitski with his first wife, Gladys (Katz) Olin Pactovis. Eve Olitski died at her home in West Hartford CT. Like her father & sister, she was an artist, but her art took a different direction from theirs. Like them, she had a flair for color, and admired Matisse, Miro and Kandinsky, but her own work was most distinguished by its light-hearted humor. Over the years, she had worked as a graphic illustrator, set & costume designer, painter, printmaker, poet and comedic writer. She was a regular contributor of pen and ink drawings to The New Yorker, and even made its cover in 1985. At the time of her death, she was also working on a standup comedy routine derived from what she called “an anti-self-help” memoir called “Fat, Fifty and A Failure,” and friends have vowed to see this project through to completion.

More importantly, at the time of her death, Olitski had a show of 27 funny, whimsical colored pen drawings on view at EBK in West Hartford. The show is entitled “Naked Ladies with Things on Their Heads,” and will stay on view, as originally planned, through November 21. Olitski was interviewed by Susan Dunne for the Hartford Courant in connection with this show, and Dunne described these inventive, droll little works as depicting a “small-scale array of naked ladies,…with a variety of odd things on their heads: plants, dogs, birds, houses, fish, lemons, a candle, a birdhouse, bananas, an elephant, a bowl of fruit, a sailboat, a lamb, grapes, pears, palm trees, lamps.” Dunne quoted Olitski as saying that she would feel like a success if her subjects got a reaction from their audience. “I would love it if people walked around the gallery and just laughed and laughed,” Olitski said. “if your work can bring any feeling – laughter, insight – that’s what art should be about.”

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