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"William Scharf: Paintings, 1984-2000"
2000-11-18 until 2001-01-21
The dreamlike imagery and translucent colors of artist William Scharf have escaped definition throughout the artist's long career.
Featuring 43 works painted by the artist over the past 16 years, this exhibition will focus on the latest expressions of this highly
original artist. Characterized by a distinctive blend of abstract expressionism, surrealism, and individual vision, Scharf's work has
long been recognized by certain artists and critics. His paintings can be found in public collections across the country including
the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the National Museum of American Art, and The Phillips Collection.
Scharf's work, which brings to mind the paintings of Arshile Gorky and Mark Rothko, for whom he served as a studio assistant,
has been considered second generation abstract expressionist. His sources and references, however, extend to the bizarre
imagery of Odilon Redon and the expressive use of color of Wassily Kandinsky. His knowledge of the power of color and
composition to evoke mood and meaning recalls such key figures in The Phillips Collection as Albert Pinkham Ryder and Arthur
Scharf was inspired in his artistic pursuits as a youth by N.C. Wyeth, who facilitated his admission to the Pennsylvania Academy
of Fine Arts. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps, Scharf resumed his studies with classes at the Barnes Foundation and the
University of Pennsylvania and with European travel and study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiére in Paris. After traveling
to South America as a seaman on a tanker and working as a clown diver in a Florida aquacade, Scharf settled in New York in
1952, where he later met Rothko.
Although he draws on sources as varied as Fra Angelico, Redon, and Kandinsky, Scharf's imagery is ultimately the product of an
inner, nocturnal world, come to life in organic shapes, enigmatic symbols, and sweeping gestures.
William Scharf (b. 1927)
The Night is in the Middle (1986)
Acrylic on canvas
The Phillips Collection,
Anonymous gift, 1994.