Julian Stanczak

(Borownica, Poland, 1928 - 2017, Seven Hills, Ohio)


In 1939 Julian Stanczak left Poland, suffering internment in a Siberian concentration camp (where he lost the use of his right arm) and subsequently traveled with the Polish-Army-in-Exile through India, Pakistan, and Iran. After his aspirations to become a cellist were dashed, Stanczak took private art lessons while residing in a camp in British Uganda for seven years and was accorded his first exhibition at the Stanley Hotel in Nairobi in 1948. From 1948-50, Stanczak took art classes in London, then earned a BA in art from the Cleveland Institute of Art after immigrating to Ohio in 1950. After receiving an MFA in 1956 from Yale University, where he studied with Josef Albers and Conrad Marca-Relli, Stanczak taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. In 1964, Stanczak was appointed Professor of Painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art. That year, his first exhibition at Martha Jackson Gallery brought him international recognition as a pioneer of “Op Art,” a style based on optical illusion. In 1965, Stanczak’s work—which he characterizes as perceptual abstraction—was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s landmark exhibition The Responsive Eye. Since then Stanczak has been accorded one-person exhibitions at the Akron Art Institute (1970), Corcoran Gallery of Art (1972), Cincinnati Art Museum (1972), The New Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio (1978) and Butler Institute of American Art (1980, traveling to the Columbus Museum of Art and Das Josef Albers Museum in Bottrop, Germany) and many other venues. Stanczak's widow, Barbara, is an accomplished sculptor who is also retired from the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Art. The artist died on March 25, 2017 in Seven Hills, Ohio.


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