Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ilya Bolotowsky immigrated with his family to New York City in 1923, and the following year began studying at the National Academy of Design. He had his first one-man-show at G.R.D. Studios in 1930. Within the decade, he would become a member of "The Ten," a group of artists including Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb who explored the use of abstraction for expressive purposes. Heavily influenced by the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, whose work he first saw in 1933, Bolotowsky was initially inspired by Cubism and De Stijl, but evolved throughout his career to give way to an austere brand of geometric abstraction based upon line, shape, and color. In 1937, he became a founding member of the American Abstract Artists, who rejected American Scene painting. Bolotowsky turned gradually toward a clear and precise style reliant upon sharply defined linear structures, which varied in shape over the course of his career. His aim was to generate order through geometric abstraction and equilibrium. As the artist himself noted:
"Nowadays, when paintings torture the retina, when music gradually destroys the eardrum, there must, all the more, be a need for an art that searches for new ways to achieve harmony and equilibrium."
—Ilya Bolotowsky, 1974
His work espouses the aesthetic principles of Neo-Plasticism, the style for which he became a well-known arbiter. Bolotowsky's diamond-shaped canvases have brought results as high as $53,000 at auction to date.
In 1961 Ilya Bolotowsky, an important geometric abstractionist artist as well as a founding member of the American Abstract Artists, began creating column-like three dimensional freestanding vertical sculptures that were applied with his favored primary colors. The surface on these columnar sculptures was similar to that of his paintings. Our Trylon Blue and Yellow created in 1972 uses building blocks through color, line, and plane surface to create a completely harmonious composition. The use of black lines and flat planes of white emphasizes the contrasts between the blues and yellows. This overall geometric shape with its rigid lines and straight edges makes the sculptures more like a decorative piece of artwork.
Estate of the Artist
Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, New York (label underneath)
Private Collection, New York