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The Stanczak Color Quarterly

Welcome back to the Stanczak Color Quarterly, the newsletter celebrating the work of seminal Op Artist and master colorist Julian Stanczak. This issue presents three paintings that each use different means to hold our attention as they play with our perceptions of light and depth. While all three use a similar geometric structure, the colors on each canvas engender vastly different experiences for the observer.

Read on to discover more about each work, view recent Stanczak exhibitions, and see press coverage—including a vintage clipping from the archives.

Three Works, Each Unfolding: Using Color to Create the Illusion of Transparency

Julian Stanczak’s fascination with the idea of transparent forms floating in space began in the 1940s, when he lived in Masindi, Uganda. There, he observed the mist from the lifting dew, distant clouds of smoke, and the thick fog of the rainy season. At the time, he made watercolors, trying to capture the haze that separated him from objects—a haze that seemed to be made of stacked and layered filters in space. Over time, those impulses to depict transparent phenomena led to the creation of more abstracted paintings, like the three featured here.

Stanczak used a variety of techniques—with different numbers of hues and application methods—to create these paintings, each of which generates a different perceptual response. Proud Green consists of only two colors: one red and one green; Unfolding and the Light consists of eight colors: four oranges and four greens; Within the Green Diagonal has two hued colors (one green and one purple) and 10 achromatic colors (going from almost white to almost black). Click the links below to read essays penned by Barbara Stanczak that illuminate the color mechanisms employed in each work.