Margaret Pettee Olsen is an American painter. She grew up in Rochester, New York, where she studied both visual art and dance. After a career-altering injury left her unable to tour as an understudy with American Ballet Theater, she trained her focus on painting. She went on to attend the Rhode Island School of Design. After RISD, Pettee Olsen moved to New York City in 1987. As a young artist, Pettee Olsen 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. A few years later, she was instrumental in establishing the fine arts limited edition lithography press, Oberon Press, in TriBeCa, as founding curator. At age 24, she was the first woman to be founding-curator of a limited edition lithography press in Manhattan.
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 which underscore the frenetic pace of our media-driven lives. She considers her large works to be indexes of action as well as gateways into the theater of painting.
Titles such as ‘Wag the Dog/White Washed’ and ‘Generated Buzz’ are suggestive of some of her conceptual concerns. 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.