Richard Anuszkiewicz

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Richard Anuszkiewicz
BornMay 23, 1930
Erie, Pennsylvania
DiedMay 19, 2020
EducationCleveland Institute of Art, Yale University School of Art
MovementOp Art

Richard Joseph Anuszkiewicz (/ˌɑːnəsˈkvɪ/; May 23, 1930 – May 19, 2020) was an American painter, printmaker, and sculptor.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Anuszkiewicz was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, the son of Victoria (Jankowski) and Adam Anuszkiewicz, who worked in a paper mill. His parents were Polish immigrants.[2] He first studied art under Joseph Plavcan while still in high school, later describing him as his most significant influence.[3] Anuszkiewicz trained at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio (1948–1953), and then with Josef Albers[4] at the Yale University School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut (1953–1955), where he earned his Masters of Fine Arts.

He was one of the founders and foremost exponents of Op Art, a movement during the late 1960s and early 1970s.[5] Victor Vasarely in France and Bridget Riley in England were his primary international counterparts. In 1964, Life magazine called him "one of the new wizards of Op".[6] While reflecting on a New York City gallery show of Anuszkiewicz's from 2000, New York Times art critic Holland Cotter described Anuszkiewicz's paintings: "The drama — and that feels like the right word — is in the subtle chemistry of complementary colors, which makes the geometry glow as if light were leaking out from behind it."[5] Anuszkiewicz exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Florence Biennale and Documenta, and his works are in permanent collections internationally. He was elected into the National Academy of Design in 1992 as an Associate member, and became a full member in 1994.


U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson and U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright inspect "Squaring the Circle", a bright red 1963 painting by Richard Anuszkiewicz, at the 1965 White House Arts Festival.
U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson and U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright inspect "Squaring the Circle", a bright red 1963 painting by Richard Anuszkiewicz, at the 1965 White House Arts Festival.

Anuszkiewicz was concerned with the optical changes that occur when different high-intensity colors are applied to the same geometric configurations. Most of his work comprises visual investigations of formal structural and color effects, many of them nested square forms similar to the work of his mentor Josef Albers. In his series, "Homage to the Square", Albers experimented with juxtapositions of color, and Anuszkiewicz developed these concepts further. Anuszkiewicz continued to produce works in the Op Art style over the subsequent decades of his career.

In 1963, Anuszkiewicz summarized his approach to painting as: "My work is of an experimental nature and has centered on an investigation into the effects of complementary colors of full intensity when juxtaposed and the optical changes that occur as a result, and a study of the dynamic effect of the whole under changing conditions of light, and the effect of light on color."[7]

Selected collections holding works[edit]

Grants and awards[edit]

  • 1953: Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship
  • 1963: Charles of the Ritz Oil Painting Award
  • 1964: The Silvermine Guild Award for Oil Painting
  • 1977: Cleveland Arts Prize
  • 1980: Hassam Fund Purchase Award
  • 1988: Hassam Fund Purchase Award
  • 1994: New York State Art Teachers' Association Award
  • 1995: Emil and Dines Carlson Award
  • 1996: New Jersey Pride Award
  • 1997: Richard Florsheim Fund Grant
  • 2000: Lee Krasner Award
  • 2005: Lorenzo dei Medici Career Award, awarded at the Florence Biennale


Anuskiewicz exhibited in many public collections around the world, including such New York galleries as Sidney Janis, The Contemporaries,[4] and the Andrew Crispo Gallery.


  • Anuszkiewicz, Richard and Karl Lunde. "Anuszkiewicz." New York: H.N. Abrams (1977). ISBN 0-8109-0363-6
  • Alviani, Getulio, Margaret A. Miller and Giancarlo Pauletto. "Richard Anuszkiewicz: Opere 1961-1987." Pordenone: Centro Culturale Casa A. Zanussi (1988).
  • Buchsteiner, Thomas and Ingrid Mossinger. "Anuszkiewicz Op Art." Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Publishers (1997). ISBN 978-3-7757-0671-1
  • Kolva, Jeanne, Maxine Lurie (ed.) and Marc Mappen (ed.). Anuszkiewicz, Richard. "Encyclopedia of New Jersey." New Brunswick: Rutgers University (2004). 9780813533254
  • Madden, David and Nicholas Spike. "Richard Anuszkiewicz: Paintings & Sculptures 1945-2001: Catalogue Raisonné." Florence: Centro Di Edizioni (2010). ISBN 978-88-7038-483-3
  • Price, Marshall N. "The Abstract Impulse: fifty years of abstraction at the National Academy, 1956-2006." Manchester: Hudson Hills Press (2007). ISBN 978-1-887149-17-4
  • Ratliff, Floyd, Neil K. Rector and Sanford Wurmfeld. "Color Function Painting: The Art of Josef Albers, Julian Stanczak and Richard Anuszkiewicz." Winston-Salem: Wake Forest UJohn Gruen (September, 1979). "Richard Anuszkiewicz: A Beautiful Discourse with Space". ARTnews. University Fine Arts Gallery (1996). ISBN 0-9720956-0-8
  • Gruen, John (September, 1979). "Richard Anuszkiewicz: A Beautiful Discourse with Space". ARTnews: 68, 69, 72, 73, 74.


  1. ^ Richard Anuszkiewicz Biography., retrieved February 20th, 2011
  2. ^ Steinhauer, Jillian (25 May 2020). "Richard Anuszkiewicz, Whose Op Art Caught Eyes in the '60s, Dies at 89". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "The Unmistakable Anuszkiewicz".
  4. ^ a b "Oral history interview with Richard Anuszkiewicz, 1971 Dec. 28 - 1972 Jan. 7". Oral history interviews. Archives of American Art. 2011. Retrieved 17 Jun 2011.
  5. ^ a b New York Times. December 15, 2000. By Holland Cotter, p. E41.
  6. ^ Life. December 11, 1964 "Op Art." p. 132.
  7. ^ Dorothy C. Miller, ed. (1963). Americans, 1963 (PDF). Museum of Modern Art. p. 6.
  8. ^ "Empire State Plaza Art Collection". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  9. ^ Honolulu Museum of Art wall label, Sol V, 1968, acrylic on canvas, accession 3546.1

External links[edit]