Richard Anuszkiewicz, ‘The Art in America Coaster Tray ’, 1971, Alpha 137 Gallery
Richard Anuszkiewicz, ‘The Art in America Coaster Tray ’, 1971, Alpha 137 Gallery
Richard Anuszkiewicz, ‘The Art in America Coaster Tray ’, 1971, Alpha 137 Gallery
Richard Anuszkiewicz, ‘The Art in America Coaster Tray ’, 1971, Alpha 137 Gallery
Richard Anuszkiewicz, ‘The Art in America Coaster Tray ’, 1971, Alpha 137 Gallery
Richard Anuszkiewicz, ‘The Art in America Coaster Tray ’, 1971, Alpha 137 Gallery
Richard Anuszkiewicz, ‘The Art in America Coaster Tray ’, 1971, Alpha 137 Gallery

On a piece of Op Art History!
In 1971, Art in America joined forces with Op Art pioneer Richard Anuszkiewicz, to offer "The Coaster Tray" - a heavy clear plastic tray with nine removable porcelain enameled metal coasters with cork bottoms - done in stunning, colorful geometric Op Art designs by Anuszkiewicz. These were not marketed to the general public, but were offered exclusively to subscribers of Art in America, as a one-off promotion. Although the exact number created is unknown - it was a limited edition, limited time offer. The cover issue featured these stunning pieces, and a full-page advertisement inside the magazine (see photographs shown here) invited people to fill out a form and send a check to receive this Coaster Tray set in the mail. It was promoted as a "handsome and usable" work of art, and people were encouraged to use them to hold cups and glasses in their everyday lives. Although the Art in America ad claimed the coasters were "Stain Proof", "Heat Resistant" and "Washable" - they easily chipped, and were not as durable as expected - though half a century later a few sets are extant. These were produced in an unknown limited edition; it is not known how many people responded to the ad; but what is known is that very few of these complete Anuszkiewicz Coaster Trays can be found these days - and we're not entirely sure why. A quick price database search found none ever appearing at the major auction houses since 1971 (that's 0 according to the largest price database). Perhaps because they were not signed, and were used as household tableware - even claiming to be dishwasher safe - many people who inherited the sets that did survive had no idea what they had. Perhaps they easily damaged. Perhaps the promotion itself was not a major success. Suffice it to say, Richard Anuszkiewicz' "The Coaster Tray" from 1971 is one of the rarest, most elusive and desirable pieces of Op Art ephemera from the Nixon era. It took us ten years of searching to finally snag this set! It's not pristine; none are. There are nicks, scratches, chips and imperfections on each chip - but the colors are surprisingly bright, and it's otherwise an excellent example. One of the coolest, brightest and most elusive pieces of Op Art ephemera. Moreover, the provenance of this set is impressive: we acquired it directly from the personal collection of art collectors Winifred and the late Lee Bell of Pittsfield, Massachusetts and Florida. Wini was the former art critic for the Berkshire Eagle and an avid collector. This set had been in her personal collection for many decades. Good luck finding another one anywhere else!

Below is the link to the Art in America edition of the artist's online Editions catalogue, featuring Anuszkiewicz' original design (porcelain on metal) for the coasters on its cover.
http://anuszkiewicz.com/applied?page=8

Signature: Unsigned

Art in America special promotional offer to subscribers

About Richard Anuszkiewicz

Combining an interest in the nature of perception with investigations into the visual and psychological resonance of color, Richard Anuszkiewicz produces paintings whose vibrant colors and geometric shapes seem to pop and pulsate off of the canvas. A student of Josef Albers and one of the leading practitioners of Op art and geometric abstraction, Anuszkiewicz explores color and form in his flat, vibrant abstractions, attempting to reveal the malleability of our perceptions of stillness and movement, depth and color.

American, b. 1930, Erie, Pennsylvania