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 William Whitaker  (1943 - )

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Lived/Active: Utah      Known for: female figure and portrait painting

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Ad Code: 3
William Whitaker
from Auction House Records.
Hat Shade
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Trailside Galleries:
William Whitaker, b. 1943, (United States)

The only son of an artist father, William Whitaker grew up in the special world of the working artist. He had access to the finest art materials and was painting in watercolor and oil at the age of six. His fondest early memories are of the sights sounds and smells of the art studio. The art world of his childhood and youth was the brave new world of abstract expressionism and until he was well out of college his natural inclination to draw accurately and his love for traditional realism was a source of inner conflict. Nevertheless he was fortunate, starting at age 17, to receive a thorough grounding in academic figure drawing and painting from the portrait painter Alvin Gittins at the University of Utah, and after exploring other styles he followed his heart into traditional art.

Whitaker loves to paint from life in an old fashioned studio. No matter what direction his art takes him, he always comes back to the model in the studio, the form bathed in the beautiful quiet cool light coming down from a high north window. He refers to this kind of seeing and painting as the Old Testament of art and feels there is enough magic to engage him there for the rest of his life.

Whitaker believes the value of painting is to be found in its spiritual power. Having been told all his life that the kind of painting he enjoys is dead, he takes quiet comfort in lovingly attempting to capture something the camera cannot see. He is also delighted that there are so many wonderfully talented young artists who are not bound or inhibited by contemporary art world conventions and who are out to paint beautifully crafted pictures without apology.

• University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Selected Exhibitions
• American West Art Exhibit, Beijing, China
• Artist of America Show, Denver, CO

Selected Press
• Southwest Art, “Art Events- Coast to Coast”, August, 2003
• Art-Talk, “In the Galleries”, June, 2003
• Art of the West, “What’s News”, May, 2003
• Art of the West, “A Simple Song”, January, 2003
• Southwest Art, “Coast to Coast, Best of the West”, October, 2002
• Southwest Art, “Timeless Tradition”, April, 2002
• Art of the West, “Oil Painters of America”, April, 2001
• Southwest Art, “Prix de West Preview”, June, 2000
• Art- Talk, “Painting Nudes and Artistic Challenge”, April, 1999
• Southwest Art, “Bottom Line”, October, 1996
• Southwest Art, “Creative Process/ Sharing Ideas”, July, 1995
• Southwest Art , “Biographies of the 64 Artists”, July, 1995
• Profiles in American Art, PBS Television,
• Stratos Magazine
• Arizona Highways

• Artists of America
• National Academy of Western Art
• Oil Painters of America, Signature Member
• University of Utah, Professor

• Brigham Young University, UT
• Springville Art Museum, UT
• Mormon Festival of Art, UT
• Utah Institute of Fine Arts, UT
• Snowbird Institute of Arts, UT

Biography from Nedra Matteucci Galleries:
William Whitaker is an artist who has been at the forefront of painting's representational revival during recent years.  The Chicago-born master of classical realism has produced a body of work widely recognized for its unmistakable technique and focus.

Whitaker’s father was himself an artist, and from him Whitaker inherited the basics of his craft.  He learned the importance of figure drawing, the science of mixing paint and the fundamentals of composition.  This firm grounding in academic knowledge and skills eventually led to Whitaker's appointment on the faculty of Brigham Young University, where for twelve years he has impressed upon his students the importance of establishing a solid foundation in technique before attempting a personal painting style.

Three things characterize and indeed are hallmarks of Whitaker’s mature work. First is his interest in the mystery and sensitivity of female subjects.  He finds the difficulty of rendering the softness of the female form in an art piece a source of inexhaustible challenge.  The female face, preeminent in his work, especially holds the artist’s imagination.

Second, Whitaker acknowledges that he paints ideal forms.  Working from models, sketches or photographs, he consciously produces images which summarize a kind of universal beauty rather than producing portraits of individuals.  This coupling of idealism with realism accounts for the extremely wide appeal which his work has enjoyed.

Finally, Whitaker’s classical training is nowhere more evident than in his highly effective depiction of drapery.  He executes fabric expertly in paint and uses cloth as a means of unifying his composition.  His focus on drapery rather than on clothing contributes greatly to the classical appearance of his work.  All three of these characteristics lead to what Whitaker describes as a “tension between the real and the illusion, between a formal structural approach and a certain amount of abandon.”

William Whitaker has received gold and silver medals from the National Academy of Western Art and is featured in numerous collections.  He  lives in Provo, Utah, and remains on the faculty of Brigham Young University.

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