Elizabeth Osborne: The Color of Light

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Elizabeth Osborne (born 1936) is a painter who responds with awe and religiosity to the grandeur, the frightening power, and the rich fluid diversity of nature. Early she painted the same landscapes -- particularly in Maine and New Mexico -- that have attracted many generations of American artists such as Frederic Church and Thomas Moran in the nineteenth century as well as Robert Henri, John Marin, Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Alex Katz and others in the twentieth. Osborne's translations of nature through the methods of soaked-in, saturated pigment, ecstatic and hallucinatory chroma, and evocative brush gestures conjure the touch, taste, and scent of the landscape. This subjective, experiential exploration reveals her place in the lineage of American landscape painting as well as her compelling role in the history of postwar abstraction. Osborne made her mark with monumental, hallucinatory landscapes of the early and mid-1970s and with virtuoso, glowing realist watercolors of the late 1970s but her recent work has included boldly-painted ruminations of nature in its micro- and macrocosm. Osborne's oeuvre is full of surprises, stylistically experimental yet cohesive, hauntingly introspective and complex in its artistic and personal associations. The Color of Light brings together paintings from all periods in her career, from a provocative series of 1960s interiors, to those innovative land- and sea-scapes of the 1970s, ambitious large still-lifes of the late 1970s and early 1980s and increasingly abstract work of the past two decades. Richly illustrated, this monograph features eighty-two full-color plates, comparative material illuminating the artist's processes, and a comprehensive chronology with numerous documentary photographs. Long recognized by critics and her peers as one of the most innovative and daring Philadelphia-based artists of the last forty years, Osborne has tirelessly explored the psychologically-charged space between abstraction and realism. Osborne studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in the mid-1950s and has been a faculty member there since 1963. A prolific artist and frequent exhibitor in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and throughout the United States, Osborne has produced a multivalent and challenging body of work that has shifted tone and content gradually since the 1960s. Although she is well-known, there has never been a full survey of her work. This book, published on the occasion of her first painting retrospective reveals the range, depth, and importance of Osborne's art.