Jules Olitski’s began using spray guns to apply paint following a conversation he had in the early 1960s while teaching at Bennington College in Vermont. Accompanied by a fellow instructor, British sculptor Anthony Caro, he had taken his class to visit his friend Kenneth Noland’s studio. Olitski recalled, “Tony says he wants for his sculpture to emphasize the density, the materiality of steel. Without thinking I said I want the opposite for my painting. . . . Later that night, falling asleep, I saw it in my mind’s eye, a flow of paint indeed; colors merging. Paradise. I rented a spray gun the next day.” In contrast to many of his earlier spray paintings, which were thick and featured distinct shapes, Second Tremor is soft and atmospheric. Although there are touches of green, white, blue, and gold, the dominant hues are yellow and purple, which are complementary colors—opposites on a color wheel. When placed side by side, complementary colors intensify each other, an effect Olitski took advantage of in this work.
Label from Sincerely Yours: Treasures of the Queen City, July 5–September 14, 2014