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 Frederick Stallknecht Wight  (1902 - 1986)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: modernist-leaning landscape, marine, figure, portrait

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Ad Code: 3
Frederick Stallknecht Wight
from Auction House Records.
MEDITATION ON MATING
© Estate of Frederick Wight
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in New York City, Frederick Wight was Assistant Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and from 1953 was Director of Frederick S. Wight Galleries at the University of California in Los Angeles and was Chairman of the Art Department from 1963 to 1966.

He wrote books about artists including Morris Graves, 1956; Hans Hofmann, 1957; Arthur Dove, 1958; and Richard Neutra, 1958.

Source: Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

Biography from Louis Stern Fine Arts:
He was born on June 1, 1902, in New York, New York, as the only child of Carol Wight and Alice Stallknecht.  The Wight Family moved throughout New York State and Vermont before settling in Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1910.

Frederick Wight entered high school in 1910, graduating at the age of fifteen.  He entered the University of Virginia in 1917, completing his studies in 1923.  After graduation he traveled to Paris to seriously pursue his artistic studies (his uncle, Dr. Sherman Wight, financed his endeavors).  Studied at the Académie Julian from 1923-1925. 

1925-1935 Returned to Cape Cod in 1925, where he painted portraits during most of the year and visited Virginia and Georgia during the winter in search of warmer climates.  Occasional Commissions furnished by Mrs. Cornelius Sullivan.  Other subjects for portraits included: Eskine Caldwell, James Branch Campbell, and Edward Seidel Canby.  Later portraits completed for Jacques Lipchitz and Lyonel Feininger, as well as local Cape Cod captains.  First novel, South, published in 1935 to encouraging critical attention.

1936-1942 Marriage to Joan Elizabeth Bingham in 1936.  The following two years were spent traveling in Joan’s home country of England, and also to the South of France, which made a strong impression on Wight’s art, resulting in several colorful landscape paintings.  Passed through a brief experimental period, which he called “Semi-Surrealist.”  In 1938, Wight and Joan moved to Chatham, Massachusetts.

1942—1945 The couple’s only child, George Frederick Wight, was born in Hyannis, Massachusetts, in 1942.  Following onset of WWII, Frederick Wight joined the Navy and went overseas.  He was initially hired as an illustrator but later became editor of the amphibious forces’ newspaper based on his writing skills.  Made drawing of Normandy beaches in preparation for the 1944 invasion landings, in which he later participated.  Returned to London, where he worked for the Naval Division of Office of Strategic Services as an interrogator.  After the capture of Paris, Wight was sent to the Continent to interview major Resistance leaders and to write an official American government report on the French resistance.

1945-1952 Wight is demobilized from the Navy in 1945 with the rank of lieutenant commander.  He rejoined his family in Chatham and enrolled in Paul Sach’s museum training program at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum, graduating with a Master’s degree in 1946.  Wrote principal essay for class’ 1946 exhibition, Between the Empires: Géricault, Delacroix, and Chassériau, at the Fogg Art Museum.  Worked with the following noted art historians: Agnes Mongan, John Rewald, and Jakob Rosenberg. After graduation, he was hired at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art as director of education; later appointed to position of associate director of the Institute.  Worked there 6 years, during which he mounted several important shows, including Louis Sullivan, José Clemente Orozco, Le Corbusier, and Walter Groupius.

1953-1973 Accepted a position as director of the new university Art Gallery at the University of California, Los Angeles, and also accepted a teaching position in the art department.  Later served as department chairman.  Shows hung during this period included Bonne Fête, Monsieur Picasso, The Negro in American Art, and New British Painting and Sculpture.  Established the Art Council, a private support group of interested community members whose goal was to provide additional funding for the Art Gallery’s programs.  Directed the program for 2 decades.  Other projects included the creation of the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden at UCLA and a residency spent at the American Academy at Rome in 1964.

1973-1986 In 1973, Wight retired from his position at UCLA.  Upon his retirement, the University Art Gallery was renamed the Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery.  His retirement allowed him to subsequently focus solely on his painting/artistic production, thus resulting in the works seen in Frederick Wight: Visions of California. He died on July 26, 1986.

Louis Stern Fine Arts is the exclusive representative of the Estate of Frederick Wight.

Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:
Painter. Born in NYC on June 1, 1902.

After graduating from the University of Virginia, Wight received his M.A. degree at Harvard and continued his art studies in Paris at Académie Julian. He later settled in Los Angeles where he taught art at UCLA.

He was the author of several biographies of artists including Goya, Van Gogh, John Mann, Morris Graves, and Hans Hofmann.

Wight died in Los Angeles on July 26, 1986. Exh: De Young Museum, 1956 (solo); Pasadena Museum, 1956; San Diego Museum, 1960; Long Beach Museum, 1961.

In: LACMA; Roswell (NM) Museum. WWAA 1962-70.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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