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Jane Wilson Horizons.

Jane Wilson Horizons

Elisabeth Sussman and Ralph Sessions, and an interview with Justin Spring

Merrell Publishers


9781858944883 $60.00

There is an evident progression in the career of Jane Wilson (b. 1924) from its beginnings in the early 1950s. Her first solo exhibition was in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1951, two years after she had moved to New York City with her husband. Born in Iowa and attending the U. of Iowa through an M.A. in painting, she wanted to be in New York because it was a center for internationally-acclaimed contemporary modernist art, particularly Abstract Expressionism. In New York for the beginning stages of her career, Wilson moved in art circles which included Jackson Pollack, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston; many of whom were producing "fascinating examples of a new abstract style, which came to be known as Abstract Expressionism." "Wilson moved toward the new art forms and away from the figurative painting of her Iowa training." For example, her 1952 "Black Still Life" contains the unorganized energy, graphic sharpness, and also the suggestion of menace found with Kandinsky.

Wilson demonstrated she had skills and imagination to rightfully belong to this group taking modernist art to its next stage; although it is unlikely she ever would have been one of the top tier. But Wilson ended up being true to her intuitions. Freed from the competitiveness and constant edginess of the hectic New York art world, Wilson's style simultaneously mellowed and became individualized. Anomalously, she took to paintings reflecting senses and overt and subconscious memories of the Iowa plains she grew up in while staying located in New York and participating fully in its art scene. Instead of pursuing the increasing austerities of Abstract Expressionism, Wilson applied its techniques of effacement and consequent expansion to references from the natural world in paintings which intriguingly present the fullness of nature as in impressionism while also presenting the distance, or otherness, of nature, as abstract expressionism holds itself apart. It is for this Wilson has distinguished herself as an artist.

Minimal, yet informative and insightful text enables readers to see the development and the distinctiveness of Wilson's art in the plentiful pictures and to understand her place in the post-War art world. As Elizabeth Sussman writes in the single biographical and critical essay, "This Iowa of rich earth, low horizons, flat land, and big skies was a tangible and positive experience" for Wilson. There is also an interview with the artist, and a illustrated biography titled "Chronology." The movements and full range of Wilson's art work over her career of more than 30 years are treated knowledgeably and rewardingly in this major art book on this artist.

Henry Berry


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Author:Berry, Henry
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2009
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