Ilya Bolotowsky

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Ilya Bolotowsky
Archives of American Art - Ilya Bolotowsky - 3143 CROPPED.jpg
Ilya Bolotowsky, from the Archives of American Art
Born (1907-07-01)July 1, 1907
St. Petersburg, Russia
Died November 22, 1981(1981-11-22) (aged 74)
Nationality American
Field Painting, murals, art education
Training National Academy of Design
Movement Abstract art, cubism, geometric abstraction, neoclassicism

Ilya Bolotowsky (July 1, 1907 – November 22, 1981) was a leading early 20th-century painter in abstract styles in New York City. His work, a search for philosophical order through visual expression, embraced cubism and geometric abstraction and was much influenced by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.


Born to Jewish parents in St. Petersburg, Russia, Bolotowsky immigrated to America in 1923 via Constantinople, settling in New York City. He attended the National Academy of Design. He became associated with a group called "The Ten Whitney Dissenters,"[1] or simply "The Ten," artists, including Louis Schanker, Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko and Joseph Solman, who rebelled against the strictures of the Academy and held independent exhibitions.

During this period, Bolotowsky came under the influence of the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian and the tenets of neoplasticism, a movement that advocated the possibility of ideal order in the visual arts. Bolotowsky adopted his mentor's use of horizontal and vertical geometric pattern and a palette restricted to primary colors and neutrals.

In 1936, having turned to geometric abstractions, he was one of the founding members of the American Abstract Artists, a cooperative formed to promote the interests of abstract painters and to increase understanding between themselves and the public.

He taught at Black Mountain College during the period 1946–1948, Kenneth Noland was among his students.

Bolotowsky's mural for the Williamsburg Housing Project in Brooklyn, was one of the first abstract murals done under the Federal Art Project. Despite Bolotowsky's clear, precise control of his images, he emphasized the role of intuition over formula in determining his compositions.

In the 1960s, he began making three-dimensional forms, usually vertical and straight-sided. He taught humanities and fine arts at the Southampton, New York campus of Long Island University and The University of New Mexico.

On September 21, 2012, Sotheby's auctioned a Bolotowsky painting that was found at a North Carolina Goodwill store for $34,375.[2]


  1. ^ "The Ten Whitney Dissenters". Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "Surprise Find at Goodwill Store Brings Thousands". Retrieved 26 September 2012. 

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