We’ve been fortunate to have acquired some of Richard Anuszkiewicz’s Annual Edition screenprints ranging in date from 1965 to 2004. Many of Anuszkiewicz’s family and friends received these prints as Christmas Cards over the years and some of them have found their way into the collectors’ market.
Anuszkiewicz has always been one of our favorites at Vertu. His strong colors and hard-edge designs changed the way the world looked at art in the mid twentieth century.
A Brief History of the Anuszkiewicz Annual Edition
Richard Anuszkiewicz became interested in color and screenprinting while studying with Josef Albers at Yale in the 1950s.
Anuszkiewicz’s solo show at the Contemporaries Gallery in New York, in 1960, got him public recognition, as well as recognition from Alfred H. Barr, the Museum of Modern Art’s first director.
Barr commissioned Anuszkiewicz to produce Christmas cards for MoMA from 1963 to 1965. We have the Christmas Star that he designed for MoMA in 1965.
Alfred Barr said, “Sometimes in the history of art it is possible to describe a period or a generation of artists as having been obsessed by a particular problem.”
Richard Anuszkiewicz’s obsession was, and remains, how we perceive color. The Op-art we’re so used to viewing and enjoying in the twenty first century, was new to the art world in the 1960s, although the study of color theory goes way back to the French scientist Michel-Eugene Chevreul, who published The Law of Simultaneous Color Contrast in 1839. Chevreul’s studies of color perception had a great influence on many 19th century French painters, including Delacroix and Matisse who, in turn, had a great influence on Richard Anuszkiewicz.
Anuszkiewicz used quiet, subtle colors in many of his early works, exploring color and perspective.
The Annual Editions at Vertu
In 1970s, Anuszkiewicz began to experiment with “simultaneous contrast.” placing two colors side-by-side in order to change our perception of those colors. Two examples of these works, that we offer at Vertu, are Annual Editions done in 1971 and 1973 designs, both enamel on masonite.
A trip to Egypt in the 1980s inspired Anuszkiewicz to use vibrant colors and more structural elements of design.
Sometimes in the history of art it is possible to describe a period or a generation of artists as having been obsessed by a particular problem.” —Alfred Barr
This was a period when Anuszkiewicz began working in wood and metal. His Annual Editions of the ‘90s reflect an evolution into clean, sculptured lines and pure colors.
“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,” Anuszkiewicz says. At age 84, Richard Anuszkiewicz continues to explore color and texture. His work is part of permanent collections and exhibitions around the world.
We invite you to see the works of this great master of optical art at Vertu.