b. Good short biography, 2013, Memorial

Olimpia Aimaretti Ogilvie (1928-2012) was a prolific modernist painter and printmaker. Throughout her forty year career, she moved easily between abstraction and figuration, investigating a wide variety of media, ranging from oils, pastels, watercolor and acrylics to etching, lithography, photolithography, silkscreen and paper pulp. Some of her most resplendent works are hallucinatory transformations of nature. 

 

Born in 1928 in the town of Rafaela, Argentina, Olimpia was the daughter of Pedro Aimaretti and Yolanda Montagna de Aimaretti. At the age of 24, she was awarded a scholarship from the Institute of International Education to pursue graduate studies at Indiana University, where she received both a Master of Arts in Teaching in 1954 and Master of Fine Arts in 1960, and studied with the influential printmaker Rudy Pozzatti. 

From 1960 to 1966, Ogilvie embarked on an extensive investigation of etching and engraving at the University of Iowa under the mentorship of the master printmaker Mauricio Lasansky. In 1966, seeking out new ideas and techniques, she moved to Paris, France, where she joined Stanley William Hayter’s celebrated Atelier 17 printmaking studio. From 1969 to 1974, she settled in Eus, a hilltop village in a remote area of the French Pyrenees, and travelled extensively throughout Europe. In 1975, she returned to the United States and joined the Art Department of Ripon College. She immersed herself in teaching and painting, eventually becoming the first female full professor and the first female chairperson of her department. She retired in 1993, and after a long illness, died in 2012. 

a. Photo for about page Olimpia en Paris

Among Ogilvie's many accomplishments, she was an Artist in Residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris (19671969), under the auspices of the American Center for Students and Artists. As a Fulbright Scholar (1987-1988), she lived and painted in the jungles of Costa Rica. Her paintings and prints were included in over 70 exhibitions throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the Associated American Artists in New York, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Galeria van Riel in Buenos Aires, and the Hoogeveen Art Center in Holland. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, and the Oshkosh Public Museum.

In 2019, she was rediscovered in Argentina as part of a project to “rethink the canon.” Memorialized as a forgotten female pioneer in the arts, her extraordinary work was the subject of a museum show called “Being Olimpia,” and her life made into a comic book that was distributed to young Argentine girls to inspire them. 

The Work

A modernist and formalist, Olimpia Ogilvie explored line, composition and color, both for their own sake and to express and elicit emotion. Deeply engaged with art history and in conversation with its traditions, her art was often autobiographical and evoked her intense sensory response to her natural surroundings, such as the sun-drenched Pyrenees, the trees and prairies of the Midwest, and the jungles of Costa Rica.

 

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, she first established herself as a printmaker, participating in the Post World War II print revival then taking place in the United States. In 1960 she joined the workshop of Mauricio Lasansky, who at that time played a key role in revitalizing American printmaking. Under Lasansky’s mentorship, she experimented with intaglio, etching, drypoint, engraving and aquatint, working primarily in black and white, but also learning to combine several different plates to create a range of color within one image. 

In 1966, in search of new methods, she moved to Paris, where she joined the legendary and radically innovative printmaker Stanley William Hayter and his Atelier 17, while at the same time continuing to paint and draw in her studio at the Cité Internationale des Arts.  At this time, vibrant, intense colors became a salient feature of her style.  Hayter’s viscosity technique played a role in this development, since it allows an artist to spontaneously apply inks of many different hues onto a single plate. Ogilvie’s new brightly colored style also owed something to the investigations of the color theorists Johannes Itten and Josef Albers, Op and Pop Art, psychedelia, and the political posters of May ‘68, all of which were part of her experience in Paris at that time.

 

In her figurative work, Ogilvie’s colors are subjective and daringly arbitrary. With their castles, perched villages, and massive rock formations, her French landscapes of the late 1960’s and early 70’s inscribe themselves within the tradition of late 19th and early 20th century French painting, such as Cézanne and the Fauves.  At the same time, their acid, quasi-psychedelic tones speak of the historical moment in which they were made. In her mature work, particularly the ‘Rainforest' paintings of Costa Rica, Ogilvie’s palette defamiliarizes perception and imparts a sense of renewal and enchantment to the viewer’s experience. “I am an image maker,” Ogilvie stated, “concerned with finding a particular way of looking at an ordinary thing in order to heighten perception of it.” 

In the 1970’s and 1980s, Ogilvie engaged developments in contemporary figuration, from American Photorealism to Italian Neo-Expressionism, so as to forge her highly individual and dynamic style. In her final project, working alongside scientists in Costa Rica, she recorded the rainforest with a high degree of precision. Camping in the jungle at night, she created paintings that also register her direct response to this immersive experience, captured in fluid, searching lines and evocative colors. Her entire oeuvre is similarly animated by this tension between rigorous perception and the mysterious play of the imagination. 

 

Arabella Ogilvie-Makari, New York, 2021

Image on homepage: Untitled, 1969, Flasche or acrylic on paper, approx. 22 x 30 in 

SUMMARY CV

Olimpia Ogilvie was born in Argentina, and continued her education and art training in the U.S.A. and Europe. 

She was a United States citizen, naturalized in 1966.

1960 MFA, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

1960-66 Post-MFA studies in printmaking with Mauricio Lasansky, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

1966-69  Atelier 17,  William S. Hayter, Paris

Selected Public Collections

  • Brooklyn Museum, New York

  • Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, Paris, France

  • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Museo del Grabado, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, Philadelphia

  • Nelson Gallery, Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri  

  • Lawrence Art Museum, Williams College, Massachusetts

  • Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia

  • Permanent Art Collection, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

  • Stanley Museum of Art, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

 

Selected Exhibitions

  • Musée d'art moderne, Paris, France: Troisième biennale de jeunes artistes

  • Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition (traveling show, 16 museums)

  • Bibliothèque Nationale, Galerie Mansart, Paris, France

  • The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (shows 152 and 154)

  • Society of Washington Printmakers (shows 21 and 23) 

  • Library of Congress, 20th Print Exhibition, Washington, D.C.

  • Galería Van Riel, Buenos Aires, Argentina (one-person show)

  • Associated American Artists, New York City, New York

  • Laurence Museum, Williams College, Massachusetts (one-person show)

  • Salon D'Hiver, Paris, France 

  • IX Salon International de Juvisy, Paris Sud, France

  • American Center for Students and Artists, Paris, France

  • Hoogeveen Art Center, Holland (two-person show)

  • DeCordova and Dana Museum, Boston, Massachusetts (one-person show) 

  • Madison Museum of Contemporary Art - Madison Art Center, Madison, WI (one-person show)

  • Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

  • Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Letters, Madison, WI (one-person show)

  • Museo Municipal “Urbano Poggi”, Rafaela, Argentina (one-person show)

 

Professional honors

  • Senior Fulbright Scholar to Costa Rica - Painting, 1987-88

  • Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris France - awarded two year residency, 1967-1969

 

For full professional record, see “Documents”