I’m interested in making something romantic out of a very, very mechanistic geometry. Geometry and color represent to me an idealized, classical place that’s very clear and very pure.
Richard Anuszkiewicz 1930–2020
Richard Anuszkiewicz was born of humble beginnings in Erie, PA to working class immigrant parents. While attending a local Catholic school, the nuns noticed and encouraged his surprisingly advanced talent for drawing. At the age of 17 he won a National Scholastic Art award and then a full scholarship to the Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio where he would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1953. That same year he won a prestigious Pulitzer travel fellowship. Rather than go to Europe like so many of his contemporaries, he opted to study under Josef Albers at Yale University for his master’s degree.
Albers, a German-born artist and educator, was one of the most influential visual arts teachers of the 20th century and his theory of color and iconic color square paintings had an enormous impact on Anuszkiewicz’s artistic development. After graduating from Yale, Anuszkiewicz returned to Ohio and studied at Kent State University where he earned a teaching degree. It was during this time that he devoted himself more seriously to painting and delved deeper into color theory and optical perception. At first, his paintings found tepid reception, with dealers complaining that his works were nice to look at but difficult on the eyes. This all changed after his solo exhibition at Contemporaries gallery in New York in 1960.