GREGORY ORLOFF

 

GREGORY ORLOFF was born at Kief, Russia, on March 17, 1890, and studied in his native city, the National Academy of Design in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. His outstanding teachers were Korenev, Olinsky, Curran and Buehr. He has painted in Austria, Germany, France and various parts of the United States. He is a member of the Chicago Society of Artists and the .South Side Art Association and has exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and in Philadelphia, Kansas City, St. Louis and Omaha. He is represented in the permanent collection of the State Museum at Springfield, Illinois, and his work has been written about in various Chicago newspapers-Russian as well as English.

I cannot say that I paint all subjects with the same degree of enthusiasm. Subjects have varying degrees and varying kinds of interest for me. Nevertheless, I feel that, in the last analysis, what subject one selects to paint is of no great importance. What is important is what one finds in the subject and what one is able to say about it. I like to paint the human figure because it lends itself readily as a nucleus around which to build expressive form. And this building of expressive form I consider of utmost importance in painting. Color, to me, is of value as a contribution to form rather than for its own sake. I do not paint any abstractions, although I enjoy looking at them when they convey thought and emotion. I consider my work a personal expression-to a degree anyway. That is, it is an expression of my individual personality, but it is informed also with elements that tradition has handed down to us as well as general impersonal elements which pervade present day life. I think that art should be a contribution to society, but whether mine is or not, I do not know. At least, I never think about whether society will benefit from my work. There are many artists whose works I admire, though that any one of these artists has, specifically, influenced me I cannot say. If he has, I am not aware of it. Probably all the artists whom I admire greatly have had some effect on my work. I do not feel that there is anything in my work that one could call peculiarly American or Chicagoan. And yet, I feel that my work has been influenced by life in this country. I am a Russian by birth but I have lived in this country long enough to have been influenced by life here as much as by that of my native country. I doubt whether I express in my work the spirit of any definite group-religious, political or economic-but I feel more interested in the manifestations of life as it is lived by the great mass of mankind than by the select few. I do not think that my work is influenced by the demand of the market. And as for criticisms, I listen to everything which is said about my work and am not averse to paying heed to any of it which may be helpful. Gregory Orloff.

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