Elizabeth Osborne is a prolific Philadelphia-based painter whose work transitions between abstraction and realism, expanding our understanding of these distinctions. Her paintings bridge ideas about formalist concerns, particularly luminosity with experiential perceptions of nature, atmosphere and vistas.
After graduating from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the artist's first mature paintings coalesced during Osborne's year in Paris through the Fulbright Program. She was soon hired to join PAFA's faculty and was an esteemed instructor there from 1963–2011. Osborne has alternated long periods of working in either watercolor or oil, specializing in controlled pours and stains on unprimed canvases early in her career. This signature paint application emerged within her representational work but became a technique that helped her explore fundamental elements of abstraction.
Beginning with figurative paintings in the 1960s and '70s, she moved on to bold, color drenched, landscapes and eventually abstractions that explore color spectrums. Her experimental assemblage paintings that incorporated objects began an inquiry into psychological content that she further extended in self-portraits and a long-running series of solitary female nudes. Osborne's recent paintings present a culmination of ideas—distilled into an essence of her understanding of process and composition.
Elizabeth Osborne has exhibited extensively throughout the United States for over forty years. Her work is included in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis; the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington; the James A. Michener Museum of Art, Doylestown; the Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia; and the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. Osborne has received numerous awards including the Percy M. Owens Memorial Award, a MacDowell Colony Grant, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award (American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters), and a Fulbright Fellowship. In 2009, Osborne was the focus of a major retrospective and accompanying publication The Color of Light at PAFA. In 2016, her 1960s work will be explored in greater depth at a solo exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum.