Ed Mieczkowski

Ed Mieczkowski (1929-)

Mieczkowski employs both painting and sculpture, sometimes combining them, to explore color and shape in creating complex, lively abstract works. As an artist and teacher, Mieczkowski was a leading figure in the Cleveland art scene for half a century. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he received his BFA from The Cleveland Institute of Art in 1957 and his MFA from Carnegie Mellon in 1959. For the next three years he taught in New York at the Pratt Institute and the Cooper Union, and then at the CIA for thirty-nine years. In the late 1950s, Mieczkowski and fellow members of the CIA faculty formed what they called the Anonima group who worked together in Cleveland and New York. Their hard-edged abstract work opposed the abstract expressionist style that dominated the art world of the period. They declared themselves free from the pressures of the art market and the pursuit of personal fame. In pursuit of these aims, they often left their works unsigned, which explains the group’s name, and vowed to shun the usual art market venues such as commercial galleries, biennials and competitions. Instead, they engaged in a rigorous, self-imposed program of painting exercises to explore the effects of geometry and color on visual perception. The Anonima work was dubbed “OP” – short for “Optical Art”– and achieved wide recognition in 1965 as a consequence of the exhibition “The Responsive Eye” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Mieczkowski is represented in the Putnam Collection by three relief sculptures. Jubilant City (1982), a large mural sculpture, is a masterpiece of lyrical abstraction and a brilliant demonstration of Mieczkowski’s use of bold color to convey the exuberant, pulsating movement of urban life. In Celebration #1 (1992) and Celebration #2 (1992), commissioned a decade later to enliven a glass-enclosed gathering place in the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, the artist used bold colored, geometrically shaped forms connected by aluminum bars to create a striking effect when viewed from outdoors at night. Among Mieczkowski’s awards are The Cleveland Arts Prize (1966) and a National Endowment for the Arts Award. He was also a regular participant in the May Shows at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where his work appeared for over 20 years and attained an equal number of awards and special mentions. In 2006, a four-decade retrospective of Mieczkowski’s work at the Lew Allen Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico entitled “Visual Paradox: Transforming Perception” created new public appreciation and new collectors for his work.

Works in the collection:

9 Jubilant City, 1982
Masonite and wood with acrylic paint
School of Medicine, Health and Sciences Library staircase, [1982.4]

22 Celebration #1, 1992
Masonite and painted wood
Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, third floor, [1992.1]

23 Celebration #2, 1992
Masonite and painted wood
Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, third floor, [1992.2]

 

 

The Putnam Sculpture Collection
Case Western Reserve University
11201 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7110

evelyn.kiefer@case.edu