Study for the Hall of Medical Sciences Mural at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York
Ilya Bolotowsky American, born Russia, 1907–1981
About this artwork
A pioneer of abstraction, Ilya Bolotowsky created numerous murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project. One of Bolotowsky’s early works, this study for a 1939 mural that was later destroyed shows his intent to create an ideal, balanced composition devoid of a dominant form. Strongly influenced by Joan Miró and later by Piet Mondrian, Bolotowsky sought to achieve compositional harmony in his works. Perhaps in response to the turmoil of the 1930s, American abstract artists looked to nonobjective art as a way to attain a sense of stability and equilibrium.
Study for the Hall of Medical Sciences Mural at the 1939 World's Fair in New York
United States (Artist's nationality)
Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.
Judith A. Barter et al., American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955 (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 125.
New York, Washburn Gallery, WPA, Mar. 13–Apr. 13, 1974, ill.
New York, Washburn Gallery, American Abstract Painting from the 1930s and 1940s, Sept. 9–Oct. 2, 1976.
Munich, Haus der Kunst, American Painting, 1930–1980, Nov. 14, 1981–Jan. 31, 1982, fig. 85.
Pittsburgh, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America, 1927–1944, Nov. 5–Dec. 31, 1981, cat. 13; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Jan. 26–Mar. 25, 1984, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Apr. 15–June 3, 1984, and Whitney Museum of American Art, June 28–Sept. 9, 1984.
New York, Jewish Museum, Painting a Place in America: Jewish Artists in New York, 1900–1945, May 16–Sept. 29, 1991, cat. 20.
Art Institute of Chicago, America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, June 5–Sept. 18, 2016, cat. 6; Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie, Oct. 15, 2016–Jan. 30, 2017; London, Royal Academy, Feb. 25–June 4, 2017.
Shanghai Museum, Pathways to Modernism: American Art, 1865–1945, Sept. 28, 2018–Jan. 6, 2019, cat. 59.
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, Bloomington, Swing Landscape: Stuart Davis and the Modernist Mural, Feb. 5–May 22, 2022.
Ilya Bolotowsky (1907–1981), 1938/39; sold through the Washburn Gallery, New York, to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1977.
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