Ilya Bolotowsky came to the United States from Russia at the age of sixteen, settling in New York with his family. Bolotowsky harbored an interest in art from an early age, and enrolled at the National Academy of Design. He further supplemented his education with a trip abroad, visiting Paris, Italy, Germany, Denmark, and England in 1932. While Paris exposed him to the Cubist works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, he encountered even more European painting styles when he returned to New York. The collection of AE Gallatin at New York University introduced Bolotowsky to the austere, restrained abstract style of Dutch modernist Piet Mondrian, as well as Russian Constructivism. These early influences were fundamental to Bolotowsky’s practice throughout his career.
Diamond with a Large White Space reflects the style and philosophy of Neo-Plasticism, a term coined by Mondrian and used by other artists of the De Stijl movement. The abstract style is characterized by vertical and horizontal lines and primary colors. Unlike Mondrian, Bolotowsky did not limit his palette to primary colors; he also used bright jewel tones and various shades in his dynamic compositions. Bolotowsky preferred the style for its harmony, balance, and order—qualities he felt that his life of upheaval lacked. The asymmetry of this work, its bold colors, and atypical canvas shape affirms Bolotowksy’s belief that paintings should be “dynamic” and not “static.” Bolotowsky received his first solo museum exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in 1974 where his diamond, tondo, and ellipse-shaped canvases received high acclaim.
Diamond with a Large White Space, 1975
Acrylic on wood
9 x 9 inches
Signed, titled and dated on verso
Grace Borgenichy Gallery, New York
Washburn Gallery, New York
The Collection of Dr. Marvin and Mrs. Natalie Gliedman
Christie’s, New York, December 15, 2020, lot 208
Addison Rowe Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM, acquired from the above sale