Ilya Bolotowsky 1907–1981
Ilya Bolotowsky was a prominent figure of American abstract painting who dedicated his artistic outputs to finding “ideal harmony and order.” He immigrated to New York from Russia in 1923 and enrolled at the National Academy of Design from 1924 to 1930 where he met Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko. He later joined "The Ten", a leading group of avant-garde artists, and became a founding member of the American Abstract Artists in 1936. Bolotowsky’s body of work centers on geometric, nonobjective forms executed in grid-like arrangements. The focal point is the relationships between primary colors created on unusually shaped canvases. His main artistic influences can be linked to Cubism, the works of Joan Miró and Kasimir Malevich, and the De Stijl principles of Piet Mondrian.
In 1935, Bolotowsky was hired by the U.S. Works Progress Administration (WPA) for several mural projects making him one of the first abstract artists to participate. His first mural project was for the Williamsburg Housing Project in Brooklyn designed by architect William Lescaze completed in 1939. After serving the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, he replaced Josef Albers’ teaching position for two tears at Black Mountain College in North Carolina where he tutored students including Kenneth Noland. In the years to come he held numerous adjunct faculty positions at institutions such as University of Wyoming, Hunter College in New York, and the University of New Mexico. During his later years he turned to filmmaking and working as a playwright.
Bolotowsky received his first solo exhibition held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1974. His work is collected by many important institutions including the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art among others.