SEPTEMBER 30, 2021–Known widely as one of the most prominent figures in the history of contemporary American wood turning, Rude Osolnik (1915-2001) led an accomplished career as an artist and teacher. In over sixty years in the field, Rude produced over 100,000 pieces – each the unique product of a lifetime spent developing his craft. Now, twenty years after his passing, Rude’s children have decided to bring a collection of his work to market. Brunk Auctions is pleased to offer a selection of Rude Osolnik’s turned bowls, platters, candlesticks, and more in our Modern & Design Auction this November 11th, 2021.
Rude was born in Dawson, New Mexico in 1915, and grew up in Johnston City, Illinois, where he gained his first experiences with wood turning throughout high school and college. Following his graduation with a B.F.A. from Bradley University in 1937, he accepted an offer to work at Berea College in Kentucky, where he taught for the school’s Industrial Arts Department for over forty years. He continued to produce his own work in addition to teaching, and with the help of his wife, Daphne, created a thriving business from his home in Berea. He attended and organized craft fairs, taught numerous workshops, and went on to become a key member in several craft organizations – most notably, the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild (for which he served on the board of directors multiple times), the Kentucky Guild of Artisans and Craftsmen, and the American Craft Council.
Rude worked with a wide variety of wood types from an equally wide range of sources, often creating works from discarded log spurs and fencepost tops. His resulting body of work is robust, exemplifying not only the artist’s technical skill, but his knowledge of and eye for design. In his own words, Rude actively worked towards “achieving a pure, simple, unadorned style containing a sense of proportion and a perfect balance between material, purpose, and contour.” His work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and shows across the country, and resides in the permanent collections of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, the Museum of Sciences and Industry, Chicago, and other institutions.
Brunk Auctions will offer a grouping of nearly fifty lots containing works by Rude Osolnik, as well as works by several other notable wood turners, including Dale Nish, David Ellsworth, Frank Sudol, and others. The Modern & Design Auction begins November 11, 2021 at 9:00 AM. A second grouping of Rude’s work will be offered in a future sale in the spring of 2022.