The Prints of Julian Stanczak

Julian Stanczak, Modular Series A-E from Modular Composite (1981) five screenprints, 36 x 24 inches each.

Julian Stanczak (1928–2017) achieved recognition as a painter at the forefront of American optical and perceptual art in the 1960s and ’70s. It was, in fact, the title of his 1964 exhibition at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York—“Julian Stanczak: Optical Paintings”that prompted the sculptor Donald Judd to coin the term “Op Art” in his review for Arts magazine.1 The concepts behind Stanczak’s, luminous abstract paintings and the complicated techniques he invented to produce them have been well documented, but scant attention has been paid to the nearly 100 screenprint editions he produced between 1969 and 1981.

Though Stanczak had made woodcuts, etchings and lithographs as a student in the late 1940s and early ’50s, as well as some lithographs in the early ’60s, it was not until he discovered screenprint that he found a medium perfectly suited to replicating and extending the imagery of his paintings: “For the visual effect that I want,” he said, “even, textureless color is necessary so that the division and distribution of adjacent colors can be controlled. Only silkscreen can do that.”2 The prints that resulted are not only carefully calibrated and chromatically vibrant, they are unexpectedly evocative—even personal.

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  1. D[onald] J[udd], “Stanczak,” Arts Magazine 39, no. 1 (October 1964): 67–68. Stanczak preferred to call his style “perceptual art.” []
  2. Elizabeth McClelland, “The Art of Julian Stanzak,” in Julian Stanzak: A Retrospective 1948–1998 (Youngstown, OH: The Butler Institute of American Art, 1998), 52. []