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 Wassily Sommer  (1912 - 1979)

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Lived/Active: Alaska / Russian Federation      Known for: modernist-leaning landscape

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Alaskan Winter Scene
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Deborah A. Lewis of Decatur, Illinois:

Wassily Sommer was a painter and an educator. He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia,1912 and became a US citizen in 1949. Wassily was a classical cellist trained in Russia where he worked in the opera theater professionally. He joined the anchorage Symphony Orchestra and the Anchorage Civic University in Alaska. Sommer played in the Festival of Music Orchestra which was under the direction of Robert Shaw.

He studied at the Munich Art Museum, Germany and had special study with painter Oskar Kokoschka, Austria; He was also at the Philadelphia Museum School, the Pennsylvania Academy Fine Arts, and studied with Franklin Watkins and Morris Blackburn.

He was an Art Professor at Anchorage Community College. At this time he pursued development of his own work. His art went from his earlier impressionistic scenes into his last works of hard edge, highly colored abstracts. His keen mind and sensitive interpretations of natural forms enrich us all.

COMMISSIONED WORK:
Portrait of Ora D. Clark, Anchorage Women's Club for Clark Jr. High School 1963; two murals(ak motif), Leo Daly and Associates,
Seattle for Elemendorf AFB Officer's Club, Anchorage 1966.

ONE-MAN SHOWS
Alaska State Museum, Centennial Art Exhibit, 1867-1967, Purchase award, Best of Show, Juneau 1967
Smithsonian Institution. Contemporary Art from Alaska, Washington DC. 1978
Anchorage Historical and Fine Arts Museum,1968,1971,1978 and 1980
retrospective
Alaska Methodist University,Anchorage 1965, 1968; Fur Rendezvous Shows. A.M.U.,1962,1963, 1964
All Alaska Juried Exhibits A.M.U. 1970, 1973, 1978. University of Fairbanks 1967.
Mel Kohler Galleries, Anchorage, 1963.
Mel Kohler Five Man Exhibit, Seattle, 1972.
Art Inc Gallery, Anchorage,1977
First Annual Governor's Art Exhibit, Juneau,1969.
Washington State Exhibit,Cheney Cowels Memorial Museum. Spokane,1960 and 1970.
Fifty-fifth Exhibit of Northwest Artists, Seattle Art Museum Pavilion, 1969.
Museum Art Gallery of Whitehorse Public Library, Yukon Territory, Canada.
Millikin University, Kirkland Gallery, One-man invitational Exhibit, Decatur,
Illinois,1987.
Gilman Gallery, One-man Retrospective Exhibit, Chicago, Illinois,1989.

STYLES AND TECHNIQUES:
Modern semi-abstract style; Acrylic and oil paintings techniques. There are so many exhibits unlisted as well as many paintings in private collections. He is listed in Who's Who in American Art 1976,1978. He passed away in 1979.
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Further note from Deborah Lewis:

Wassily Sommer works with a definite method of applying his paint. He builds from a substructure to the sensitively controlled hues and values at the surface with unmistakable organization. He retains the flatness of the canvas, suggesting depth with receding Cools and over lapping shapes.
Gervais Reed of the Henry Gallery at the University of Washington stated this about Sommer's work. "Because of the close color relationships and the quite colors," Reed wrote,"The simplicity of the shapes and the simplicity of the surface, because of the space-not perspective spec, but flat and deep at the same time. His paintings are "felt" have feeling-very strong but quite and understated."

An obituary tribute from Pat Austin read: "Seldom have bright colors fallen so heavily as this October 2 [1979]. On this morning Wassily Sommer, Painter and teacher, laid down his brushes for the last time. Few artists have known the earth in all its moods of gray and vibrant hues as he did. Landscapes to which most of us were blind in our rushing to succeed, Wassily could capture on his canvas. He was concerned with the eternal in the eternal change. The fragile shift from winter to spring signaled by reddening birches, the violet stain on the mountain as dusk begins. Small white trees when the blossom conceives the harvest.

Wassily painted and lived with passion and integrity, highly articulate about the miracle of sight. He was impatient for us to slow down, to see ourselves how transparent is the waning moon. Last Tuesday, with the trees citron against the slate blue sky, Wassily could wait no longer.






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