(b Snovsk [now Shchors, Ukraine], 27 Mar. 1922; d New York, 4 Feb. 2007). Russian-born American painter and sculptor, one of the leading figures of Post-Painterly Abstraction, specifically of Colour Field Painting. His early paintings were influenced by Fauvism and they were followed by heavily textured abstracts, but in 1960 the direction of his work changed radically when he began experimenting with stain techniques in the manner of Frankenthaler and Louis.
In 1964 he began using a spray gun and in the second half of the 1960s he developed the type of painting for which he is best known—vast canvases covered with luscious mists of atmospheric colour; he said that ideally he would like ‘nothing but some colours sprayed into the air and staying there’. Sometimes there are some heavier touches at the edges of the canvas in a sort of ironic reference to Abstract Expressionism, and in the 1970s Olitski returned to a more textural handling of paint, often reducing his colour to delicate modulations of greys and brown. He took up sculpture seriously in 1968, working mainly with painted metal.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)