The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of February 25, 2024

Atomic Mystic Cosmic 16

Atomic Mystic Cosmic 16

(American, b. 1955)
Image: 81.7 x 53.5 cm (32 3/16 x 21 1/16 in.); Sheet: 92.5 x 63.8 cm (36 7/16 x 25 1/8 in.)
© Polly Apfelbaum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Location: not on view

Did You Know?

The “rainbow roll” printing technique is responsible for the gradient effect of many of the colors seen on this print.


Polly Apfelbaum’s work builds upon the American abstract tradition of color field, pop, and abstract expressionist painting, while rejecting what she calls the “aggressive masculinity” of these movements. Atomic Mystic Cosmic 16 was stimulated by a year Apfelbaum spent in Italy, when she became fascinated with drapery and colored fabrics depicted in Renaissance and Baroque paintings, as well as the decorative inlay of medieval mosaic floors. For the color, she employed the “rainbow roll” technique, in which multiple colors are partially mixed to achieve a continuous gradient effect. The effect is one of dazzling color and pattern, while also creating spatial relationships that complicate the composition’s hard-edged geometry.
  • (Durham Press, Durham, PA)
    December 7, 2020
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Women in Print: Recent Acquisitions. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (January 16-June 19, 2022).
  • {{cite web|title=Atomic Mystic Cosmic 16|url=false|author=Polly Apfelbaum|year=2017|access-date=25 February 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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