Margaret Pettee Olsen is an American painter. She was born and raised in Rochester, New York, where she studied both visual art and dance. A career-altering injury trained her focus from touring as understudy with American Ballet Theater, to visual art and painting. She went on to attend the Rhode Island School of Design. Pettee Olsen moved to New York City in 1987. As a young artist, she found viable work in the limited edition printmaking industry. On Varick Street, she began working with a range of artists and their large-scale print projects including, Robert Motherwell, Frank Stella, James Rosenquist, Barbara Kruger and others. At age twenty-four, she was instrumental in establishing the fine arts limited edition lithography press, Oberon Press, in TriBeCa, as founding curator. She is the first woman to be a founding-curator of a professional limited edition lithography press in Manhattan. Pettee Olsen also holds a masters degree in studio practice and arts pedagogy from Columbia University.
While printmaking has influenced her work in terms of her thin application of paint media, Pettee Olsen is primarily known for her conceptually loaded and spatially dynamic abstract paintings. Her use of reflective paint distinguishes her from many who are pushing painting forward with new materials that alter our way of seeing color and light. The artist often mixes these light reflective synthetic polymer paints with other hues of varying opacities, and in a variety of applications. Beyond her concerns with color and light, she considers her large works to be indexes of action and gateways into the theater of painting. While always a painter, most recently she has begun the planning stages for several collaborative projects and installations.
Works and documented projects by the artist are held in collections in the United States and Japan, including The Rhode Island School of Design, The private collection of Mark Kostabi, The private collection of Martin Johnson, The David and Annette Raddock Collection, Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio Private Art Collection, and others.
© Margaret Pettee Olsen