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Paul Zelanski was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1931. He studied at The Cooper Union in New York, served in the military, and then enrolled at Yale University where he studied with Josef Albers. He was greatly influenced by Albers's teaching, especially color theory, and after receiving his BFA at Yale in 1957, and on Albers's recommendation, Zelanski attended Bowling Green State University for his MFA in painting, graduating in 1958. He then moved to Texas to teach at North Texas State University, and in 1962 joined the faculty of the University of Connecticut as Professor of Art, where he remained until retiring in 1995.
Zelanski's work in the early 1960s was centered on painting and constructed objects, frequently with collage of photographs and other images taken from newspapers, and these works were included in early exhibitions of Pop Art (1963) and exhibited widely. In the late 1960s Zelanski began to work with shaped canvases, stretching the fabric over small blocks of wood and dowels. This shaping of the surface led to his work in plastic, which he had first used when a student at Cooper Union in the 1950s.
In his use of plastic at this time, around 1970, Zelanski developed a method of heating a clear sheet of plastic, pressing particular shapes into the heated plastic to create the form and then, when dry, painting the plastic sheet on the reverse with acrylic paint. The brushstrokes of the paint are diffused by the clear plastic when viewed from the front, and the sculptures appear rather as if made from gloss, colored plastic. An interest in a modular approach also emerged in these works, and all of the plastic sculptures shown here are made up of individual 12 x 12 inch plastic panels. These works were included in many exhibitions in the 1970s but have not been shown publicly since then.
Zelanski continued to work with plastic through the 1970s, using broken sheets combined with string and wire, and then began working primarily in collage. Zelanski is the author of four well-respected books on art, including "The Art of Seeing" and "Color", both of which have been in print for over twenty years. Please click here for more biographical information.