| John "Jack" Wilkinson is primarily known as Jack (John) Wilkinson
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An example of work by John "Jack" Wilkinson
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|Biography from Mark Humpal Fine Art:|
|Jack Wilkinson was born in Berkeley, California in 1913, and raised in
Hawaii, the son of a construction company owner. He received his
undergraduate education at the University of Oregon from 1932 to 1935,
initially pursuing a degree in jounalism but then entering the art
program in order to learn how to illustrate an article he had written
for the school newspaper. He then moved back to San Francisco to
further his studies in art at the California School of Fine Arts from
1935 to 1937, studying principally with Maurice Sterne, eventually
becoming an assistant and apprentice of Sterne along with fellow
classmates Nell Sinton and Charles Voorhies.|
In 1937 he was awarded the J.D. Phelan Travelling Scholarship, which
would allow him to travel extensively in Europe and view works in major
art institutions overseas. At the same time, however, his
mentor Maurice Sterne had asked him to be an assistant in his studio
for a mural project for the Department of Justice. Consequently
he was granted a postponement of travel in order to work with Sterne as
well as improve his French prior to departure. Travelling to
Chicago, New York, and then on the Europe in 1938, Wilkinson
established a studio in Paris, which would become his base of operation
when he subsequently journeyed to Italy, Germany, Holland and
England. While in Paris, a romance blossomed between Wilkinson
and fellow painter Una McCann, who also had a studio in Paris.
With Europe on the verge of war, the two painters would return to San
Francisco in late 1939. Wilkinson and McCann would marry the
following year in California. Perhaps most notable of Wilkinson’s
time in Paris was his conversion to the theories and approach to
painting of Cezanne and to a lesser extent, Pissarro.
Upon his return to San Francisco, Wilkinson entered and won a Treasury
department competition for a Post Office mural to be installed in
Burns, Oregon. His wife assisted him in completing the mural in
the summer of 1941. Upon arrival in Burns to install the finished
mural, they discovered that the dimensions they had been given were
inaccurate, resulting in considerable on site rework. The mural
currently hangs in the main court room in the Harney County Courthouse
in Burns. Wilkinson and his wife then drove from Burns to Eugene,
Oregon to visit friends. Upon their arrival in Eugene, they found
that Lance Wood Hart, an assistant art professor at the university, had
died suddenly of a heart attack, and so they stayed in Eugene for the
funeral. Wilkinson was then asked if he would be willing to cover
Hart’s classes for the term. This would be the start of
Wilkinson’s 37 year tenure with the school. His classes became
legendary among his students. He established one of the earliest
basic design classes in the United States and his intergration of
philosophy, psychology, and mathematics into his classes offered his
students an intriguing, broad and intellectual approach to art.
While Wilkinson is perhaps best known as a teacher, he was quite
talented as a painter, remaining quite active with his own art
throughout his life. His earlier canvasses show an affinity for
the human figure. Through the 1930s and 1940s, his work was
expressionistic and compatible with predominant art concerns of the
time. Toward the late 1940s onward, a more highly stylized and
abstracted approach appeared, with canvasses executed with spontaneous,
energetic and broad brushwork. Later works reveal an increasing
interest in landscape painting.
Throughout his career, he remained fascinated with mural painting as a
venue to explore more complex and complicated themes. He would
often paint over previous works many times as the act of painting
seemed to hold a primacy above the final result, as well as a place to
try out evolving concepts, no matter how successful or
unsuccessful. For Wilkinson, painting above all seemed to be a
journey of investigation and confirmation of the ideas that he was
constantly visualizing and revising. Over the years, he continued
to exhibit his work internationally as well as regionally.
In 1962, Wilkinson became chair of the art department at University of
Oregon. For a variety of reasons, many beyond his control,
Wilkinson’s additional duties as the prime administrator for the
department proved to be an increasingly untenable burden for him as the
1960s progressed culminating in his resignation from his position in
Eugene and subsequent move to Louisianna State University to head up
the art department there in 1968. While at LSU, he developed and
artist-in-residence program and started an MFA program.
Additionally, his teaching had an even more substantial impact upon art
students from the more conservative South. He remained in his
position at LSU until his death in 1974. A comprehensive
retrospective of Wilkinson’s work was exhibited at the University of
Oregon in 1990.
Kenneth R. O'Connell, An Exhibition of the Works of Jack Wilkinson: Artist-Philosopher 1913-1974, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Oregon, 1990.
Courtesy, Mark Humpal
|Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:|
|Lithographer, painter. Born in Berkeley, CA on July 2, 1913. |
Wilkinson studied at the University of Oregon, CSFA under Maurice Sterne, and in Paris. During the 1930s he was a resident of San Francisco, and after 1941 taught at the University of Oregon and Lousiana State University.
He died in East Hampton, NY in 1974. Exh: SFAA, 1937 (prize); CSFA, 1939 (solo); Portland Museum, 1945 (solo).
In: SFMA; Burns (OR) Post Office. WWAA 1940-53; SS.
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