”Piero Dorazio & the Responsive Eye” on view at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

EUGENE, Ore. -- (April 24, 2013) – The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art presents a special exhibition of nearly twenty experimental Op (Optical) art color aquatints and lithographs by the influential Italian artist Piero Dorazio (1927-2005). Dorazio co-founded the important group of Italian abstract artists, “Forma 1,” in 1947 and published one of the first books on international modern art to appear in Italy, “La Fantasia Dell-Arte Nella Vita Moderna,” in 1955. The exhibition is on view in the MacKinnon Gallery of European Art until July 21.


On Friday, May 3, at noon, Sarah Robison, Master’s candidate in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Oregon, leads an exhibition tour.


The fourteen prints in this exhibition represent a variety of compositional approaches. They are organized primarily by variations in line width, moving from widest to thinnest. Within this organization, other patterns begin to emerge in the form of the stripe, the wave, the grid, and the spiral. The patterns play with the viewer’s sense of direction and motion, balancing between the vertical and the horizontal, the rigid and the fluid. Despite their compositional differences, the prints are united in their exploration of solid, luminous color juxtapositions, contained in geometric forms against a white background. 


Prime examples of Op Art, “these abstractions,” says June Koehler, assistant curator of  American and European art, “play games with the eye, eluding focus and tending toward a more impulsive encounter. The eye travels first along the lines, tracing their directional currents. Upon closer examination, these lines begin to take on their own sense of form and the eye responds, exploring the nuance of shade within them. The chromatic layers force the viewer to question the difference between figure and space. These images represent the complexity of Dorazio’s lively abstractions and their mystifying ability to transcend space to explore a deeper visual and expressive depth.”


Dorazio was a prominent Italian artist. Although he began his artistic training with a focus on painting and drawing, he studied architecture at the University of Rome beginning in 1945. This architectural background informed the distinctive linear elements in his work, which is also characterized by its large scale and bold juxtapositions of color against a solid ground.


Although he was primarily a painter, Dorazio also worked in the media of drawing, printmaking, and ceramics. His work can be categorized as distinctly modernist, with stylistic influences ranging from the structured linear velocity of Italian Futurism, to the dizzying effects of Op (Optical) Art, and the non-representational freedom of Abstract Expressionism.


Early in his career, Dorazio traveled widely across Europe and spent time in New York City. He became a member of important modernist art circles and socialized with such artists as Jackson Pollock, Giacomo Balla, and Mark Rothko, among many others. In the United States, he had his first major group exhibition in New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 1951 and was appointed Director of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960.              



About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest museum for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art based in a major university setting. The mission of the museum is to enhance the University of Oregon’s academic mission and to further the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for the general public.  The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to art from China, Japan, Korea, America and elsewhere as well as changing special exhibition galleries.  The JSMA is one of six museums in Oregon accredited by the American Association of Museums.


The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027.


About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.


Contact: Debbie Williamson Smith, 541-346-0942,


Links: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,