John Henry Wilde (1919 - 2006)

Birth date: 12/12/1919 Death date: 3/10/2006  
Birth location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Death location: Evansville, Wisconsin  
Media: Graphic Art , Painting Web site:
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John Wilde
Born 1919 in Milwaukee, WI
Died 2006 in Evansville, WI

John Wilde was born December 12, 1919 in Milwaukee, where he attended public schools and was childhood friends with Karl Priebe (1914-1976). While on a high school trip visiting the shared studio of Alfred Sessler (1901-1963) and Santos Zingale (1908-1999) he realized that his love of art could develop into a serious career and soon began an informal apprenticeship under Milwaukee painter Paul Clemens (1911-1992). 

Wilde was a lifelong member of Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors and participated in his first exhibition with them in 1934. He attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison (1938-1942) and received a Bachelor of Arts degree.  He studied under Frederick Burkhardt, John Kientz, Harold Taylor, Eliseo Vivas and John Watrous (1908-1998)

Wilde spent the years 1942-1946 in the armed forces, medical corps and OSS. These years were very influential in the imagery he used in his art throughout his career.

Wilde returned to Madison in 1948 for a Masters degree in Art Education and stayed on to teach drawing in the Art Department for the next 34 years, retiring in 1982 as a Professor Emeritus. As one of the “Magic Realists”, Wilde was often associated with and influenced by artists Sylvia Fein (1919), Dudley Huppler (1917-1988), Karl Priebe (1914-1976), Marshall Glaiser (1902-1988) and Chicago  artist Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977).

An accomplished draftsman, Wilde frequently began with a detailed silverpoint underpainting for his oil paintings of layered translucent glazes. This technique for prepared wood panels was used by Italian and Flemish painters of the 15th and 16th century, but is less common today. Wilde’s surrealistic subject matter combined images derived from his interest in the neoclassicism of the Renaissance, the natural world, and the Wisconsin landscape.

Selected One-Person Exhibitions

1999 Wildeworld: the Art of John Wilde, Elvehjem Museum, Madison, Wisconsin
2003  John Wilde: Recent Work, Spanierman Gallery, New York 

Selected Group Exhibitions

Layton Art Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1950-    1951 Edwin Hewitt Gallery, New York
 1963 Lane Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1978 Albrecht Art Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri
1986  Schmidt Bingham Gallery, New York 

Selected Publications

Art Institute of Chicago
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
The National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian
Institution, Washington, D.C.
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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