Richard Kattman talks about Jules Olitski’s “Green Hands”

Jules Olitski’s

Green Hands

, on view through May 5, 2013 at the Davis Museum, Wellesley MA

As an artist and abstract painter, a Spring journey to the

Davis Museum at

Wellesley College

to see “April Brief: Notes from the Color Field” afforded no

less than Enlightenment.

Green Hands

, the dominant artwork in the exhibit, by Russian born artist

Jules Olitski

, is an astonishing, ebullient, immense, elegant, surprisingly simple,

and complex canvas. Daringly beautiful, overwhelming, psychological,

searching, and masterfully composed, it is painting of the highest physical

objectness, and intellectual order.

Created in 1969 (Vietnam, Woodstock, The Godfather, Chappaquidick,

Waiting for Godot), the painting is representative of Color Field’s most

advanced abstraction practiced by Helen Frankenthaler, Jack Bush, Mark

Rothko, and Barnett Newman.

Rafael Mineo, Architect of the Davis Museum, stated in 1993: “Therefore, I

very much wanted the Museum to be understood as a treasury, a treasury that

speaks about the lives of the people who received their education here”. 

To arrive at Olitski’s

Green Hands

 requires endurance, wonder, and an ever

upward spiritual climb through the “Treasury” to end in a vast, white, skylight

flooded room at the upper recesses of a magic place, situated above the campus

treetops, viewing a serene lake, with Gothic architecture and wilderness


Green Hands

is a grandiose work by any sense of the imagination, by sheer

scale alone, as a golden ratio 2:1 canvas measuring nine feet high and seventeen

feet long. Upon arrival, a sense of presence of the artist and the work is

immediate and all consuming.

But the Colors! The colors are opulent, staggering to the senses, full, rich,

exotic, lush, radiant, glowing, layered, and constantly shifting, evaporating, ever

changing. A grand green-yellow field fills the center and explodes outward to

the distant edges, modulated there by softened pale cobalt blues and violets at

opposite corners, up and down, all dissolving before the eye. The central marks

of spray reveal a dense overall pattern of lovely saturated permanent greens

underlain with riotous cadmium yellow. The right hand end moderates to sea

green and viridian as the natural light bounces red violet on the adjacent white


The field is endless yet self-contained, demanding meditation, heightened visual

awareness, quietness and peace.

It is difficult to imagine controlling the execution of the work for its airport

hangar dimensions.

Green Hands

 must have been painted on the floor but is

viewed on the wall! Is this Spring green or grass green? But no, this is paint! A

Painter’s Paint and nothing more than Paint Paint Paint! Harmony and balance

are ever present. Stability challenges the senses.

Stepping back to take in the entire composition, the field is discovered to be

subtly enclosed at the edges by hand drawn, meandering, painted thin blue,

umber, and violet lines. A burst of raw sienna as perhaps Sun occurs in the

upper left solar system. The trails define the boundaries and bounce the

composition back to its origins the center, in a constantly moving, back and

forth, round and round, spiraling adventure. “Green Hands” glows from within

from great depths on a flat surface.

“What does it mean”, you ask? The answer lies in the Art.

Jules Olitski is a modernist artist with classical training, practicing in the

Renaissance tradition, applying twenty-first century ideas to the age- old

traditions of painting. 

Surface, depth, edge, drawing, color, idea, Paint.

-Richard Kattman

And now a bit about Richard Kattman-

An award-winning artist, landscape architect, and photographer from Holliston, Richard bases his abstract acrylic paintings on landscape and the intuitive, emotive mind. Along with brilliant color, the sheer size of his paintings (many are over 6 ft. wide) is impressive. 

See more of Richard's work at

Richard Kattman's exhibit, Painted Abstracts, at Fountain Street Fine Art, Framingham MA, in March, 2013