Richard Anuszkiewicz, 1978, Light Magenta Square, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 in.
"Art has been a way of life for me. I have never done anything else. Art was something I needed to say. It made life more than existence. I just hope that in 100 years people aren't worried about when I did something, but what I did."
Anuszkiewicz's geometric paintings dazzle the mind and eye with their exquisite use of color, seeming to glow with an inner light. In a 1985 New York Times article, David Shirey wrote: "[w]e would not know so much about color today, nor feel so much about it, were it not for Richard Anuszkiewicz. He has changed the way we think about and respond emotionally to color, and has even affected our spiritual response to it." His work has inspired us, challenged us, and, in poetic fashion, connected us with our spirits. In Anuszkiewicz's words:
"[l]ike the Impressionists, I want the viewer to mix the colors in his eye. I do not want to mix them on the palette. This way, I get greater intensity of color and greater purity, too. Unlike the Impressionists, however, I've freed such explorations from subject matter and discovered greater freedom in non-objective art."
Anuszkiewicz is considered one of the founders and giants of Op Art in America, although he maintains that he doesn't belong to a group, and his work has also been described as perceptual art and scientific art. In the era since that movement was defined and celebrated (roughly speaking the first half of the 1960s) his work has either been rebelled against - for example by Minimalists such as Donald Judd - or praised, criticized or emulated. But it has rarely been ignored. In pop culture, meanwhile, his work, and that of the Op Art movement more generally, would prove influential on the fashion, advertising and music industries. These external responses to Anuszkiewicz's art, however, have rarely impacted on the personal vision which has guided his development. His longevity, meanwhile, has ensured that this vision continues to invigorate the Op Art movement half a century after its conception. As Dennis Dooley wrote: "Anuszkiewicz's paintings force us, again and again, and in wonderfully imaginative ways, to reflect on our experience as human beings in a physical world - as well as one defined by cultural associations."