Antique Rude Osolnik Furniture
Rude Osolnik (1915- 2001) is best known for his dynamic wood turnings made in Berea, Kentucky although he also uses his talents to teach thousands of students in the Woodcraft Department of Berea College. He was born in Dawson, New Mexico to Slovenian immigrants who later moved to Johnston City, Illinois, where Osolnik learned wood turning in High School before attending college at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where he received his BFA and MFA degrees. He took a teaching position at Berea College where he became Chairman of the Industrial Arts Department and, for a time, ran the Woodcraft Department.
Since Osolnik began turning wood in 1927 his goal was to perfect his personal style of creating bowls, vases and candlesticks. He is, therefore, a pioneer in the establishment of studio turning as an art form rather than an industrial product. In the 1940s, Osolnik began using “found” wood (such as wood from fallen trees) to make one-of-a-kind works. Osolnik also experimented with woods from the roots of trees and later began to make turnings from waste produced by a veneer mill nearby. Later in his career, in the mid 1960s, Osolnik began to laminate or glued woods together with polymers and glues, turning such multi-colored blocks into vessels – sometimes employing stacked and laminated Baltic birch plywood for blocks to turn on the lathe. Such an approach created dynamic patterns to his vessels that, in some ways, echoed the growth rings of natural woods. Unlike many turners who sought perfection, he freely welcomed imperfections and rough openings accidentally left in his vessels. His works are in many important public collections, including the Renwick Gallery, the High Museum of Atlanta, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Yale University Art Museum, to name but a few. Osolnik was a founding member of The Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, a leader in the Southern-Highland Handicraft Guild and a seminal figure in starting the Berea Crafts Festival.
In the 1980’s Osolnik was a co-juror at one of the first international exhibitons of the Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia, where he exhibited a 10 ½ inch tall birch ply laminated vessel. Osolnik’s vessel was then bought by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for their permanent collection (1988.234), immediately following the exhibition. Auction highlights include an antique signed uneven rim bowl made of zebrawood that realized $1,320 at Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, NJ on 21 April 2007.
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