The Color Choices of Olendorf

Olendorf (1924-1996) studied architecture and design while at Harvard. For picture making, this gave him a firm command of distinct lines and the monochrome color palette, but he would find a far more complex problem when he transitioned to oil painting.

The 19th and 20th century were a volatile time for art theory. Impressionist painters, aided by scientific thought, realized that the color perceived by the eye and the color understood by the brain were two different things. Impressionists aimed to capture the former. One method they used was called broken color, where shades of a color were painted without blending them; this led to the early critique of impressionist works as “unfinished.” Nonetheless, their aim was to enrich the color’s vitality and to give it the actual sensation of light. Neo-impressionism took this approach further and focused more on the analytical theory and division of color and vision. The results of this were techniques like pointillism and divisionism. The next movement was fauvism, which took a radical approach to color choice, and made choices favoring the mood they wanted to portray, not the color you would find represented by the natural world. A great example of this, and to see how far it could be pushed, is Blue Horses by Franz Marc.

As Olendorf developed as an artist, you can clearly see he borrowed from impressionism and fauvism. He created a realism that focused on intense color and a playful palette. The fields in the vineyard are the most impressionist of this group, while the intense color fields in the boat relate to fauvism. This diversity and technical ability is one of the qualities we really like about Olendorf.

Olendorf: French Patio Garden

From the well-travelled artist, Bill Olendorf (1924-1996), this oil painting of a French patio garden was restored from flood damage, and placed in a custom Spanish reverse frame with regular gold. We are very fond of the flowers, their abundance and rich colors, and how the work just seems to say “Summer!”

L’Espoir du Volubius by Calder

This lithograph by Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976) suffers from stains, fungal invasions, and possibly tears. It is print 59 of 100 and is entitled L’Espoir du Volubius. Calder was one of the most recognizable and beloved modern artists. His pursuit through the art world was as voracious as it was diverse. He created sculptures, gouaches, prints, book illustrations, and even designed jewelry. He is perhaps most well-known for pioneering kinetic art.

Olendorf: Ink Print of Notre Dame

This ink print was in a drawer with many other works during a flood. Ink from other works, and rust from the drawers, transferred to this print. In addition, the prolonged exposure to water allowed fungus to grow. With a series of targeted chemistry baths we were able to remove the contaminates, and then press and blot the print to give it a “like new” quality.

Olendorf: Vezelay finished and framed

Bill Olendorf (1924-1996) oil painting of Vezelay was fully restored and placed in a custom Spanish reverse frame with regular gold. Initial restoration efforts were captured in an earlier post Olendorf Vezelay.

Vézelay is a commune in the Yonne department in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in north-central France. It is a defendable hill town famous for Vézelay Abbey. The town and the famous 11th century Romanesque Basilica of St Magdalene are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Olendorf: Harvard and Chalet

After restoration these two Bill Olendorf (1924-1996) oil and panels were archivally fitted in custom frames. The style of American Whistler frame was chosen for both, and the Harvard landscape received white gold, while the Chalet with Mountain landscape received regular gold.

Artist’s Studio

Fascinating work by Bill Olendorf (1924-1996) is the artist’s rendition of his own studio. The walls hold a number of his own works that, for this painting, it would have been necessary for him to paint them again in miniature. We can’t help but feel the playfulness of this gesture, as well as the lively atmosphere of his studio that is bristled with color, and how each work on the wall must also have an interesting story that goes with it. This is definitely one of those works one wishes they could step into.

Olendorf Study of Harvard Building

Study of Harvard Greek revival building by Bill Olendorf (1924-1996) is a great example for how an artist conceives of an idea in one medium and then builds on it in another. Most noticeably, the shift in point of view increases the dynamic presence of the building, and the inclusion of people shows an artist with an expanding command of subject matter. The oil painting is dated 1946, which we believe to be the year Olendorf graduated from Harvard.

Olendorf Watercolor Harvard Building

Chemical bath for watercolor by Olendorf (1924 – 1996). The blue residue is actually from another watercolor which transferred during a flood. Problematic tape is along the left side which contains non-archival compounds that are problematic on their own, and worse when water spreads them. There is also green paint in a corner, which came from the front of the work.