Curator Scott A. Shields delivers the LAM opening exhibition lecture, Breaking the Rules: Paul Wonner and Theophilus Brown.
In reaction to the widespread pursuit of Abstract Expressionism in the late 1940s and early 1950s, several avant-garde artists in the San Francisco Bay Area began to reengage with the visible world, the artists applying the gestural style of action painting to depictions of people, landscapes, and still lifes. The artist couple Paul Wonner (1920–2008) and William Theophilus “Bill” Brown (1919–2012), both of whom had just completed master’s degrees in art from the University of California, Berkeley, aligned themselves with this new direction and became leading practitioners of the style today known as “Bay Area Figuration.” The couple subsequently lived in various California cities, pursuing opportunities to paint and teach, before finally settling in San Francisco. Over time, both artists’ works became less gestural and more overtly representational and, in Wonner’s case, increasingly detailed and precise. Brown became known for his psychologically evocative landscapes with classic bathers, as well as for his lonely urban scenes. Wonner also painted figures but received greatest acclaim for his “Baroque” still lifes laden with everyday objects, animals, and flowers.
William Theophilus Brown (American, 1919–2012), Standing Bathers, 1993. Acrylic on paper, 23 x 28 1/2 in. Crocker Art Museum, Estate of Paul Wonner and William Theophilus Brown, 2019.22.7.
Advance tickets recommended.
Museum members: $12
Celebrating Male Bodies in the Works of Paul Wonne …
Join art historian Daniell Cornell for his lecture about the evolution of the work and lives of Theophilus Brown and Paul Wonner. Cornell speaks about these artists’ perspective as Bay Area Figurative artists both prior to and following the development of queer art theory.
Movie-Made Los Angeles: Lecture and Book Signing
Join film professor and author John Trafton to learn about Laguna’s links to early Hollywood. Meet the author who will be signing copies of his new book, Movie-Made Los Angeles, following the program.
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