Julian Stanczak - A Great Op-Art-tunity !

25th January 2024

Bidder's made the most of a great "Op-Art-tunity" to own a piece of art history in this months Fine Art Sale held at The Abbey Auction Gallery, in Battle.

Burstow & Hewett had a collection of paintings by the Polish born American painter and printmaker Julian Stanczak. Primarily known for his polychromatic abstract paintings made using acrylic on canvas which rely on an interplay between geometric forms and lines. ⁠

Did you know the term "op art" was born from a review of Stanczak's ground-breaking 1964 exhibition at Martha Jackson Gallery in New York? Interestingly, Stanczak himself preferred to label his distinctive style as "perceptual art" rather than the more commonly used "optical".


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Julian Stanczak (1928-2017) 'Female Figure'. Early 1950s oil on board

The bidding was off to a flying start with the first of Stanczak's paintings, Lot 501 : A 'Female Figure'. An early 1950s oil on board, exceeding all expectations on the day and fetching a grand total of £4,650 (inc fees) when the hammer finally came down. 

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Julian Stanczak (1928-2017) 'Niania', mixed media on canvas, signed 'J. Stanczak 56

Next up was an abstract mixed media on board piece titled "Niania", which also featured in a gallery catalogue, buyers battled it out and the total hammer price achieved was £1,100.

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Julian Stanczak (1928-2017) 'Harmony Cadmium' (1991), acrylic on board, mounted in metal frame

However, the spotlight piece, the iconic 'Harmony Cadmium' (1991), signed by Stanczak, sadly failed to meet its reserve and remains up for grabs post-auction. Reach out to auctions@burstowandhewett.co.uk if you're keen on making it yours!

We collected the Stanczak works from a private house and there is an interesting provenance attached to the collection.

The owners mother, Irena, had the same journey out of Poland as Stanczak via the Middle East and Africa to England in the 1940s or 50s. They remained friends and in contact with each other their whole lives. All the books and exhibition catalogues etc are dedicated to Irena and signed by Julian (in Polish).
Also the book 'From Snow to Sunshine' (lot 504) is Irena's biography account of the journey to London and then settling in East Sussex, which is where Burstow & Hewett are located.

The son says that the family home in London was in Bayswater, "A big place with lots of bohemian people coming and going, artists and writers". The home was very close to the Drian art gallery in Porchester Place, opened in 1957 by Halima Nalecz. The Drian art gallery was a focal point for abstract art in the 50s and 60s. The family had connections to it for many years.

Stanczak left England for America in 1950. Our 2 early paintings were sent back to the family after he left, although they have no record of when their mother had them.


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