Press Releases

Line Color Illusion: 40 Years of Julian Stanczak

For Release: March 2013

Line Color Illusion: 40 Years of Julian Stanczak, on view April 13 – November 3, 2013, at the Akron Art Museum, documents both the artist’s impressive career as a master of color and the museum’s longstanding commitment to his work. The exhibition showcases paintings and prints collected by the museum since 1970.
Stanczak was born in Poland; during World War II he was imprisoned in a Siberian concentration camp, where his dreams of becoming a cellist were dashed when he lost the use of his right arm. He later learned how to draw with his left hand as a refugee in Uganda and after the war attended art classes in London and at the Cleveland Institute of Art. From there Stanczak enrolled as a graduate student at Yale University where he studied with the celebrated master of color, Josef Albers. After earning his MFA, Stanczak began teaching at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and in 1964 his solo exhibition at The Dayton Art Institute was visited by Martha Jackson.
Jackson arranged for Stanczak to open the next season at her New York gallery. She promoted the show as “Optical Painting.” Despite Stanzcak’s preferred use of “perpetual abstraction” to describe his work, “Op Art” caught the attention of the public. The following year Stanczak was featured with other abstract hard-edge artists in The Responsive Eye, an exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art that attracted immense popular attention.
In 1970 the Akron Art Museum hosted its first exhibition of Stanczak’s work. By that time Stanczak’s compositions were becoming increasingly complex, as evidenced by Dual Glare, which the museum purchased that year. Stanczak achieved the optical effects in Dual Glare using both his intimate understanding of how color is perceived and experiments to determine how hues of different wavelengths react to one another when applied in varying proportions.
It’s Not Easy Being Green, the museum’s latest Stanczak acquisition, was created in three layers using twenty-five colors. The artist began by applying the color on the outside squares and worked his way in from the edges to the center. Next, he articulated the “windows” or “frames,” again slowly modifying the colors inward from the exterior. His final step in creating the glowing canvas was to paint the top small squares. Stanczak notes that he intends his centralized compositions as invitations to his viewers, yet offers few pathways for the eye to follow. While the “eye and the brain always demand a point of rest,” Stanczak “gives the viewer everything at once.” The visual overload and inability of the eye to focus on one area induces the optical phenomenon of the pulsating “X” that emerges at the center of the canvas.
Line Color Illusion invites viewers to immerse themselves in the Julian Stanczak color experiences. His paintings and screenprints offer opportunities to appreciate his immense energy and depth of creative inquiry. They likewise stimulate unique responses that the observer brings when viewing Stanczak’s art.
Light Color Illusion seeks to offer both visual delight and understanding of some of the many themes and ideas the artist has explored throughout his career. 
For more information on Julian Stanczak visit his website at

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