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Elizabeth Osborne: The Color of Light Opens in June at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Elizabeth Osborne, Color Field, 2000. Oil on canvas; 52 x 72 in. Dr. Janice Taylor Gordon

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Long recognized by critics and peers as one of the most innovative and daring Philadelphia-based artists of the last forty years, Elizabeth Osborne has tirelessly explored the psychologically charged space between abstraction and realism. Celebrating the long and dynamic career of this much-beloved artist, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) will present Elizabeth Osborne: The Color of Light, June 26 - September 20, 2009 in the Fisher Brooks Gallery on the first floor of the Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building (128 N. Broad). This is the first museum exhibition devoted to Osborne and the most comprehensive survey of her paintings to date.

The exhibition will include paintings from all periods in Osborne’s career, from a haunting series of 1960s interiors, to powerful land- and seascapes of the 1970s, ambitious large-scale still-lifes of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and increasingly abstract, transcendent work of the past two decades. The Color of Light will feature approximately 50 paintings made between 1962 and 2009, as well as a selection of working sketches, photographic source materials, and sketchbooks from the artist’s studio.

Although a nationally known figure in the art world, Osborne has made her mark from Philadelphia, choosing to remain independent from art world trends in order to explore her personal vision. A Philadelphia native, born in 1936, she trained at PAFA between 1954 and 1958, becoming the Academy’s third full-time female faculty member in 1963. She has since taught generations of artists and has been an important mentor and role model for peers in Philadelphia.

“Liz has been an extraordinarily focused and hard working artist,” says Robert Cozzolino, PAFA’s Curator of Modern Art, and curator of the Osborne exhibition. “She has been important to the history of PAFA, but she has also dedicated her life to

exploration in the studio and in the landscape. Throughout her successful career, Liz has used the solid academic training she received at the Academy as a foundation from which to question the nature of representation,“ he adds, “She has repeatedly pushed against and questioned the academic tradition in order to explore the ephemeral and transitory in nature through close observation and an emotional investment in her subject matter.”

Cozzolino explains that Osborne’s career is remarkable for its variety and palpable search for new methods to represent human experience. “An amazing aspect of her work is how often she shifted gears stylistically after deeply engaging a theme or subject. She has never been afraid to immerse herself in a new material or unfamiliar approaches, constantly taking risks and pushing the boundaries of what can be described in paint,” he adds.

The Color of Light will be accompanied by a major study of Osborne’s life and work published by PAFA and Bunker Hill Press. It is the first full analysis of Osborne’s career and will reveal the range, depth and importance of her work, placing it in the context of post-World War II art. It promises to be the standard review of her art for years to come.

Running simultaneously with the Osborne exhibition will be works by her friend and Academy colleague, Sidney Goodman in The Man in the Mirror, June 26-September 20 in PAFA’s Annenberg Gallery (Hamilton Building, Second Floor). Osborne is represented by the Locks Gallery in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts | Philadelphia | Elizabeth Osborne | Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building |  |


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