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!”

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.

Custom Frames for Olendorf

Fully restored Olendorf oil on panels are now in custom frames. TOP is a landscape of Santorini in an Italian high front frame with a pale gold finish. MIDDLE and BOTTOM are Chicago skylines with Modernist frames in silver. Based on the subject matter we are able to pair the frame style and color in order to compliment certain attributes of the artwork. We are firm believers in the sometimes overlooked relationship between artwork and frame, and that is why we take the time and care to custom build each of our frames.

Chicago Cityscape

Next up in the Olendorf opus: Chicago Cityscape. Extensive dirt, a mold invasion, and panel warping caused from flood waters, were all threats to this work, but we were able to treat the mold before it could spread out of control, and a honeycomb backing was adhered to stunt the warping. Dramatic color changes were also discovered with careful cleaning.

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.

Gerrit Sinclair Portrait “Student Artist”

Old varnish had tinted this work with an unpleasing yellow hue. Careful cleaning lifted the imperfection and allowed a clear surface for new conservation varnish to be applied.

Gerrit Van Sinclair (1890-1955) received his education from the  School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1910 to 1915 under the tutelage of the prominent John Vanderpoel and John Norton. Following his service in World War I, he became an art teacher, first at the Layton School of Art and then at the Oxbow Summer School of Art in Saugatuck, Michigan. He retired in 1954.

Exhibitions of his work, during his lifetime, were held at the Salon d’Automne in Paris, the Whitney Museum in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as many other museums and galleries. He was the recipient of many prizes and work commissions, including a W.P.A. mural commission for the Federal Building in Wassau, Wisconsin.