October 26 - November 27, 2004
Opening Reception: Tuesday, October 26 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm
The place is everything as far as I’m concerned.
Jane Wilson’s paintings are meditations on time, place, weather, memory, experience and perception as much as they are landscapes. Showing extraordinary skies anchored by low, horizontal planes of land and ocean, Wilson’s works convey an evocative power and subtle beauty. Drawing on sources as diverse as French Impressionism, Dutch landscape painting, and Abstract Expressionism, each painting resonates with the artist’s own deeply individual language, educating the eye to see in a different, more perceptive way. A color catalogue with an essay by Elisabeth Sussman, Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, accompanies the exhibition.
“What I find so remarkable about confronting these paintings in the twenty-first century is their elegiac quality,” observes Sussman in her essay for the exhibition catalogue. “They recall the poetic sensibilities of mid-century, when syntax was kept simple, when renditions of views of land and sky or of ordinary life could be both benevolent and metaphysical, redolent of the vagaries and complexities of the everyday. Simultaneously, and perhaps more relevant to today’s painters, we are lost, without perspective, in the atmosphere of Wilson’s paintings. The spectator is an observer, a navigator; the destination is drifting, like the clouds, changing, like the weather.”
Most of Wilson’s paintings are created in her Water Mill, Long Island and New York City studios, as she draws upon recalled sensations and experiences rather than direct observation. Her paintings do not begin with preconceived notions of what the final image will be but instead are developed intuitively and unhurriedly towards completion. Working downward from the top of the canvas, using a limited range of colors, Wilson adds layer upon layer of pigment, as many as thirty to a painting, to provide translucence and resonance. Horizontal bands delineate horizon and strips of land, light, and water.
“What I’m aiming for are moments of strong sensation,” Wilson explains, “Moments of total physical experience of landscape, when the weather just reaches out and sucks you in. And the challenge of trying to trigger those moments with pigments of ground-up earth. When you think about it, it’s really very mysterious.”
Now in her 80th year, Jane Wilson was born in 1924 in Seymour, Iowa. She earned an MA in painting from the University of Iowa before moving to New York City in 1949. Her first solo exhibition took place in 1953, as a charter member of the legendary Hansa Gallery. In the decades since, Wilson has had some fifty solo shows throughout the country, thirty of them in New York City. Her work is represented in many major private and corporate collections and is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden, the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Wilson, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, makes her home in New York City and Water Mill, Long Island. She is married to writer and photographer John Gruen.