The Iron Butterfly

© Estate of Nicholas Krushenick, from the Collection of the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University

The Iron Butterfly, 1968

Nicholas Krushenick   —  
  • American
  • 1929-1999

  • 2019:001.012a
  • serigraph on Schoellers parole cardboard, edition 9/125
  • The Iron Butterfly
  • Cologne & New York: Galerie der Spiegel and Pace Gallery
  • 35 1/2 x 27 1/2 in.
  • Framed: 36 x 28
  • Collection of the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University, Gift of the Castellani Family, 2019

American artist Nicholas Krushenick (1929-1999), was an accidental pioneer of the Pop Art Movement, merging the Pop Art esthetic with Abstraction, Cubism, and Color Field painting.  This assimilation of contrasting artistic styles placed him outside of any specific school or movement of his time. In the early 1960s, he coined his signature style as “Pop Abstraction.”

Krushenick’s use of hyper Day-Glo colors and bold hard-edge black lines give his work a punch of adrenaline. These bold, optically bombastic works of art go beyond the visual:  you can almost hear the undulations of the patterns and feel the heat resonating from the vibrancy of color. 

Krushenick also had a love for wordplay and appropriation of language that inspired exhibition titles such as Electric Soup, Blazing Blazons, and The Jewel Thief. This portfolio, The Iron Butterfly Suite, was named after the 1960 rock band Iron Butterfly, best known for the song “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”  Works in this portfolio echo the auditory power of the song (deafening bass, chopping keyboards, and the rhythmic thrashing of the drums) and the paradoxical concept of an iron butterfly, which counters our understanding of both terms.