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 Emerson S. Woelffer  (1914 - 2003)

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Lived/Active: California/Illinois      Known for: lithographs, collage, etching

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Ad Code: 3
Emerson S Woelffer
from Auction House Records.
The Lookout
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Best known for his boldly colored abstract oil and acrylic canvases with jagged forms in sometimes dense compositions Emerson Woelffler was active in this style until his later years when macular degeneration made working in color difficult. He then began using white crayons on black paper in a looser style. He was also a sculptor and lithographer and lived in both Chicago and Los Angeles.

Emerson Woelffer was a native of Chicago where he worked at the Institute of Design under Moholy-Nagy. and earned a B.A. Degree and taught there in 1942. Later he was instrumental in bringing modernism to Los Angeles where he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute (now Cal Arts) from 1959 to 1973. He also taught at the Otis College of Art and Design until 1989. Earlier he had been a teacher at Black Mountain College where he associated with Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell. In 1967 and 1967, he went to Europe on a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and in 1970, he was an artist-in-residence at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

Retrospectives of his work were held at the Santa Barbara Museum in 1964, the Phillips Collection in 1974, and the Otis Gallery in 1992. During his lifetime, exhibition venues included the Museum of Modern Art, the Corcoran Biennial, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Pennsylvania Academy.

Art in America, May 2003
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted November 2003 by Katherine Tozier, is from the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph newspaper article, 9/1/52

Emerson Woelffer is the only Coloradoan with an invitation to exhibit in the Carnegie International Exhibition. Woelffer's "O equals X2" is one of 100 paintings by American artists. Woelffer has exhibited his paintings in every large city in the United States and in France and Switzerland. He has had a one-man show in Vermont, Chicago and New York. Last Spring Woelffer's works were shown in the American Painters Exhibit at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The Exhibition presented the works of painters who, in the opinion of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, deserve wider recognition.

Mr. Woelffer has been head of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center School since 1950.

Biography from Tobey C. Moss Gallery:
The following is from Tobey Moss:

Initially I was primarily interested in the lithographs Woelffer made at Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los 1961, in 1966/67, in 1970. He introduced me to his other prints also: the lithographs and few etchings made at the Colorado Fine Arts Center in 1951-54, that built on the vocabulary of surrealism and calligraphy towards an abstraction that seldom related to figuration.

In the early 1960s, he accepted an invitation from June Wayne to work at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles and continued at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, NM when it moved in 1971; he made many editions over the next decades and his 'romance' with lithography never waned.

My appreciation of his prints was broadened soon to embrace his paintings, drawings and collages. In 2000 he created lithograph Venice II at Tamarind trained Ed Hamilton's Studio in Venice, California. Soon afterwards, unfortunately, his waning eyesight impeded further work.

Emerson Woelffer was a pioneer of the Abstract Expressionist movement with his friend Robert Motherwell. In paintings and collages of clipped papers, held together with paste or pins, Woelffer worked in broad color fields with incorporated gestural expressiveness. This became a recognized vocabulary of forms and symbols that informed his printmaking as well.

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Emerson Woelffer is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Abstract Expressionism

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