Medium: Acrylic on masonite
48 in. h. x 36 in. w., board
48.5 in. h. x 36.5 in. w., as framed
In 1957 Edwin Mieczkowski graduated with a BFA in Painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art. After earning his MFA at Carnegie Mellon University, Mieczkowski returned to Cleveland to serve as a faculty member at CIA, where he would continue to teach for 39 years. His time was split between Cleveland and New York, where he maintained a successful studio practice. Mieczkowski was a founding member of the artist collaborative Anonima, along with with artists Frank Hewitt and Ernst Benkert. Anonima was founded in response to the three artists’ shared distrust of the commercial gallery system. Fearing that their work would be misrepresented, the members of Anonima elected to exhibit work in their own spaces, producing and disseminating independent content including manifestos, catalogs, and several issues of Anonima magazine.
The members of Anonima shared both ideological and aesthetic sensibilities, with each artist approaching perceptual abstraction in their own way. In a 2012 interview for Geoform, Mieczkowski recalled:
We used to say that we wanted poetry in our lives and order in our work. Geometric forms were an important aspect of the order we sought as they are readily identified and could be repeated to create structures, grids and serial orders. They offered clarity of form. So at the outset, we agreed to use geometric forms and precise edges in our work.
Anonima’s hard edged, geometric forms led to the group becoming closely associated with the Op Art movement. The Big A was painted in 1964, the same year that Time Magazine published an article titled “Op Art: Pictures that Attack the Eye” which featured a color reproduction of a similar Mieczkowski painting, Adele’s Class Ring. This success was only the beginning for Mieczkowski and his collaborators. A year later, Mieczkowski and fellow Anonima member Frank Hewitt were included alongside Julian Stanczak and Richard Anuskiewicz in MOMA’s monumental exhibition The Responsive Eye. Anonima disbanded in 1971, having achieved commercial success on a national level despite their best efforts.