Biography

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 an 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 work on Varick Street in the fine art limited edition printmaking world, working with a range of artists and their evolving, often large-scale print projects, included 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 the founding curator, and thereby is the first woman to have been founding curator of a professional limited edition lithography press in Manhattan. Pettee Olsen also holds a master’s 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 sorts of hues and in a variety of applications. Beyond her concerns with color and light, she is preoccupied with altering perception and disrupting orientations in looking and seeing. 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, The private collection of Dominic Sekich, Ralph Nagel of the Nagel Hall Art Collection and others.

© Margaret Pettee Olsen 2020