DC Moore Gallery
This exhibition of recent paintings is Paul Wonner's first solo show at DC Moore Gallery and is his first solo exhibition in New York City since 1992, as he has most often exhibited on the West Coast. Wonner, along with Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Theophilus Brown, and Elmer Bischoff, is one of the seminal artists of the Bay Area figurative movement. Incorporating both landscape and still life, Wonner's paintings show directly observed objects placed in invented settings. Each work presents the viewer with a series of clues, the cumulative effect of which is to reveal much about the artist’s life, interests and values.
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"Paul Wonner's still life compositions are an open-ended construction of objects, connected by a web of formal, allegorical, and sensory references, painted piece by piece onto an invented, stage-like space," observes John Arthur. "While some of the formal characteristics and the edgy emotional undercurrents in these paintings place them squarely in our time, their visual extravagance and crisply defined planar spaces recall those opulent Dutch still lifes, bouquets, and interiors of the Golden Age."
Wonner was born in Tucson, Arizona in 1920 and earned a B. A. in 1952 and an M.A. in 1953 from the University of California at Berkeley. His first solo show was held at San Francisco's M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in 1956. His work has since been exhibited extensively around the country and is included in the collections of a number of major museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Solomon Guggenheim Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
As befits a painter who was influenced early on by Abstract Expressionism, Wonner's working method is improvisational. He first sets the background and floor planes, then paints the objects one by one with no prior arrangement in mind. Both design and meaning develop during the painting process itself. Breakfast Table and Roman Head is characteristic of this recent body of work. As with many of Wonner's works, solitude is implied -- the round table is set with breakfast for one. A Roman head shares the windowsill with several plants and postcards of what appear to be a Bonnard and a Picasso are tacked to the window, which opens onto a lushly rendered view of a yard. An elaborate vase of flowers that merits a painting all it’s own sits on a small stand to the left. The individual elements both retain their individuality and coalesce into a coherent whole.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Nancy Grimes.