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Indepth Arts News:

"Jane Wilson: Land/Sea/Sky and Photographs by John Gruen"
2003-01-11 until 2003-02-23
McKinney Avenue Contemporary
Dallas, TX, USA United States of America

The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC) is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by Jane Wilson (Land/Sea/Sky) and photographs by John Gruen. Jane Wilson's paintings are meditations on time, place, weather, memory, experience and perception as much as they are landscapes. For well over half a century, John Jonas Gruen has been observing artists.

Jane Wilson's paintings Show extraordinary skies anchored by low, horizontal planes of land and ocean. Wilson's works convey an evocative power and subtle beauty. Drawing on sources as diverse as French Impressionism, Dutch landscape painting, and Abstract Expressionism, each painting resonates with the artist‚s own deeply individual language.

Most of Wilson's paintings are created in her New York City studio, as she draws upon recalled sensations and experiences over direct observation. A painting does not begin with a preconceived notion of what the final image will be but instead is developed intuitively and unhurriedly towards completion. The basic format varies significantly from one painting to the next. Several horizontal bands delineate horizon and strips of land, light, and water. She works downward form the top of the canvas, using a limited range of colors. The undercoat provides the internal light of the painting and helps to dictate what will follow. Layer upon layer of pigment, as many as 30 to a painting, are added to provide translucence. Wilson typically works with one complimentary tone over another and these layers cause her canvases to resonate with light.

Jane Wilson was born on a small farm outside Seymour, Iowa in 1924. She and her husband John Gruen moved to New York City in 1949. She was a founding member of the now-defunct Hansa Gallery, one of the first successful painters‚ cooperatives, and a member of the group that eventually became know as the Second Generation Abstract Expressionists. To support her painting habit, Wilson had a seven-year career as a fashion model, appearing in glossy magazines such as Vogue in the early 1950s. She has been president of the National Academy of Design, chair of the Columbia University art department and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1951. She is represented by DC Moore Gallery in New York City.


For well over half a century, John Jonas Gruen has been observing artists. As a photographer, critic, and composer, his encounters with the most influential figures of the New York art scene have made him an experienced chronicler of personalities in the late 20th century.

Gruen's work in the 1950s for a well-known photo agency put him into contact with some of the greatest photographers of the day, including Brassai, Robert Doisneau, Bill Brandt, Sabine Weiss, and Man Ray. These personal and professional contacts and Gruen‚s subsequent work as an art, music and dance critic for leading publications such as the New York Times, Vogue, ARTNews, and Dance Magazine gave him exposure and experience.

Captured in rich duotone images that reflect both their prominence and, at times, their vulnerability, the artists, musicians, and writers presented in his latest book, Facing the Artist, amount to a photographic collage of contemporary American creative genius. As critic Justin Spring writes in his forward: "In Facing the Artist, Gruen presents a body of work characterized by a splendid openness and generosity of spirit. His unique touch of gentleness and honesty may well explain why so many of his subjects, even the shyest or most difficult seem so relaxed, so sincerely please to be photographed by him."

Indeed, this gentleness and honesty are compellingly reflected in early shots of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Larry Rivers, Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Beckett and Willem de Kooning as well as later images of Jennifer Bartlett, Bruce Nauman, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, William Wegman and Magdalena Abakanowicz-to name a few.

He is the author of 13 other books: The New Bohemia; The Private World of Leonard Bernstein; Close-Up; The Party's Over Now; The Private World of Ballet; Gian Carol Menotti: A Biography; Eric Bruh: Danseur Noble; The World‚s Great Ballets: People Who Dance; The Artist Observed; Keith Haring: the Authorized Biography; and Flowers & Fables.

Gruen was born in Paris, France and received his early education in Berlin and Milan. The son of a European-based journalist, Mr. Gruen continued his education in New York and in Iowa, where he received his BA and MA degrees from the University of Iowa, where he met his wife Jane Wilson.

The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC) offers opportunities for experimentation and for the presentation of art in all disciplines, and provides a forum for critical dialogue between emerging and established artists and their audiences. The MAC supports the artist's role in society, cultivates that relationship through education and innovative programming, and stands as an advocate for creative freedom. The MAC has been operated by Dallas Artist Research and Exhibition, Inc., a non-profit arts organization, since October 1994. The MAC is a member of Dallas Art Dealers Association.

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