Ivan Olinsky (1878-1962)
Red-Headed Woman, circa 1918
Oil on canvas
Gift of Leonore O. Miller, John L. Miller, and Richard H. Miller, the daughter and grandsons of the artist, 1999
Upon opening the doors of the Krieble Gallery, I cannot help but be intensely struck by the grace and vibrancy of Ivan Olinsky’s Red-Headed Woman. My eye is drawn to her each time I pass through the gallery, whether I’m shuffling through on my way to the next appointment or taking a moment to step away form my office for a change of scenery; she always moves me. As an amateur artist myself who is fascinated by the human figure, I feel a personal connection to this painting on many levels.
On first impression, I appreciated this piece for its use of elements and principles of art — A figure bathed in sunlight combined with rich hues of complementary reds and greens, creating an elegant movement across the canvas. The transparency of the curtain paired with the ivory tone of the woman’s skin is simply striking, offset by her fiery red locks and deep emerald skirt. Upon closer examination, I am awestruck by Olinsky’s use of paint. How does he create such delicacy with his purposeful brushstrokes? The empathy this piece evoked within me enriches my experience. If you close your eyes, do you feel the warm sunlight on your back, too?
And lastly, as I walk away, I always wonder who this woman was — the personal way in which she was captured on canvas suggests to me that there is more than meets the eye. A little bit of mystery will stop me in my tracks each time she catches me passing by.
Please Note: This painting is on view through March 25, 2007 in the exhibition, A Collective Endeavor: Three Decades of Acquisitions.