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 Milton Wilson  (1923 - 2004)

About: Milton Wilson
 

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Lived/Active: Oregon      Known for: abstract expressionist painting

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Ad Code: 4
Milton Wilson
from Auction House Records.
Untitled, 1969
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Era ~ Mid-century Furnishings & Art:
Milton Wilson was born in Portland, Oregon in 1923.  He served in World War II, and then studied at the Portland Museum Art School (now known as Pacific Northwest College of Art) under Louis Bunce and later at the California School of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Institute of Art.  His art is characterized by a vibrant palette and bold, fluid brush strokes with an almost calligraphic quality.  The bulk of his work is abstract--multi-layered, voluptuous riots of lines and curves and shapes--but in his later years faces and figures began to reemerge in his work, which often has a sly, playful quality.

Milton Wilson was one of the co-founders of the New Gallery for Contemporary Art, which was open from 1959 to 1962 in Portland.  It is important for the time because it dealt only with contemporary art.  Wilson was influenced by Action Painters.  His style was forceful, dynamic, creative and sometimes had a decorative quality.  He had little interest in landscape, but stated that “all paintings are still lifes or landscapes.”  His early works were mainly still lifes and figurative works, for which he used a cool palette.  Later his paintings became more emotional and abstract, with an almost Mediterranean sensibility to color.  He was a professor in the art department at Portland State University in 1974.

Milton Wilson was a brilliant painter, a fabulous party host, a volatile charmer who reveled in life, a singular personality whose Abstract Expressionist paintings and drawings can barely contain his bold, vibrant spirit.

In his life as in his art, Milton Wilson flouted convention.  Known for his sharp tongue and for speaking his mind, he cut a Truman Capote-like figure in social circles.  Eschewing cars, he rode his bicycle everywhere. Though he lived for a time in New York, San Francisco, and Europe, he ultimately returned to Portland to live and work. When he died in Portland in June of 2004, he left behind a singular artistic and personal legacy.

His major Exhibitions included:
Portland Art Museum (1PS 1950)
Oregon Society of Artists
Seattle Art Museum
New Gallery of Contemporary Art (59, 1PS 59)
Citizens for Art Group (59)
Rutherford Gallery – San Francisco (59)
Oregon Centennial (59)
University of Oregon (75)

Artwork by Milton Wilson is held in numerous important private collections as well as The Portland Art Museum, The Oakland Museum of Art, Yale University, Reed College, University of Oregon, and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University as well as many corporate collections.

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