“Pressure Compact” by Jules Olitski

By: Alicia Bojkov

Lot 8 – Jules Olitski (1922-2007), PRESSURE COMPACT, 1987. Water and oil-based enamel on plexiglass; signed, titled, and dated verso. 49 x 41.25 in — 124.5 x 104.8 cm. Estimate $45,000-$65,000

Each decade of Jules Olitski’s 40 year career is defined by distinct experimental and expressive handling of materials. Pressure Compact, 1987 can be described as a transitional piece, stylistically situated between his exploration of iridescent paints in the 1970s and early 1980s and his sculptural Mitt paintings of the late 1980s and early 1990s – a culmination of all his artistic experiments.

Beginning his career alongside Color Field movement heavy-hitters like Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Larry Poons, and Frank Stella, Olitski rose to prominence in the late 1950s and 1960s with his Core and Curtain paintings which focused on the saturation of colour on the canvas.[1] Soon after, Oltiski developed the goal of “suspending colour” on the canvas which he achieved by applying paint to unprimed canvases via a compressed-air spray gun in his aptly named Spray paintings. The emphasis on the overall effect or gestalt of his work allowed the artist to transcend media, material, and convention, landing Olitski the first solo show by a living artist at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1969.[2]

In Pressure Compact, 1987, Olitski builds upon layers of acrylic and oil-based enamel paints creating a sculptural surface that evokes the ethereal elements of his Spray paintings while dismissing the physical limitations of painting on plexiglass. What is ultimately achieved in Pressure Compact is a multitude of dichotomies coexisting on an unconventional plane where colours are simultaneously lucid and opaque but never dull.

About the auction

Held online from May 24-29, 2024, our spring auction of Canadian and International Fine Art brings together exceptional work from around the world. This auction features celebrated Canadian artists such as Cornelius Krieghoff, A.Y. Jackson, P.C. Sheppard, A.J. Casson, Bertram Booker, Alexandra Luke, Jean Paul Lemieux and Yves Gaucher as well as important First Nations artists Norval Morrisseau, Roy Thomas and Alex Janvier. International highlights include work by Jules Olitski, Karel Appel, Kwon Young-Woo, Norman Bluhm, Józef Bakoś, Léon Lhermitte and Montague Dawson.

Previews will be available at our Toronto gallery, located at 275 King Street East, Second Floor, Toronto:

 Thursday, May 23 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Friday, May 24 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Saturday, May 25 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Sunday, May 26 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Monday, May 27 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Tuesday, May 28 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Or by appointment.

Please contact us to find out more.


[1] https://issuu.com/yaresart/docs/olitski-ebook
[2] https://libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16028coll12/id/1989/

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