New York

Ilya Bolotowsky, Small Biomorph, ca. 1935, oil on board, 12 x 15 1/2".

Ilya Bolotowsky

Washburn Gallery

In 1936, the painter Ilya Bolotowsky (1907–1981) cofounded American Abstract Artists, an organization instrumental to the advancement of European abstraction at a time when the form was “met with strong critical resistance” (according to the AAA) in the face of the then-dominant regionalism of artists such as Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. The Washburn Gallery’s presentation of Bolotowsky’s work, a selection of eight paintings created between 1935 and 1980, showed us an artist who was a staunch believer in the experimentalism and ideals of modernism, as well as a master of both the geometric and the biomorphic strains of abstraction.

Of the latter in this exhibition were Small Biomorph, ca. 1935; Cobalt Violet, 1938; and Umber, 1938–39. Small Biomorph seemed the most chthonic image of the bunch—something like an Arthur Dove painting that was left out in the rain. Woolly-edged shapes in

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