October 24 through November 29, 2009
WILLIAM WOLFF (1922-2004)
A PRINTMAKER’S ODYSSEY
In the early 1960s William Wolff found his artistic direction, creating woodcut
prints, that he continued making the rest of his life. Wolff had his first solo
show of paintings in 1955 in San Francisco at the Lucien Labaudt Gallery that
introduced many artists of the Bay Area Figurative movement. Previously at the
Campbell Gallery and ArtZone 461, Wolff’s paintings from the 1950s and
1960s have been shown. ArtZone is pleased to present its first exhibition of
William Wolff prints (mainly woodcuts), several of which are in the permanent
collections of many prominent museums throughout the United States.
Wolff spent his whole life making art. Initially he studied at the California
School of Fine Arts (later San Francisco Art Institute) in the early 1940s. After
serving in the Army in World War II he returned to his fine art studies. He received
a BFA and then an MFA in 1951 from the University of California-Berkeley. In
the summer of 1950, at Mills College, he studied with German painter Max Beckmann
whose powerful personality left an indelible stamp on Wolff.
Using the modernist flattening and compression developed in his earlier paintings,
Wolff’s prints explore philosophical, religious, political and literary
themes derived from his extensive reading in several languages. Wolff approached
printmaking like painting, by re-working blocks he produced more unique works
than multiples, and is why he signed most of them “Artist Proof”.
Bill & Toni Brown (double portrait), 1976, color woodcut, 151⁄2
WILLIAM WOLFF (1922-2004)
PAINTINGS FROM THE ESTATE
January 24 - March 1, 2009
William Wolff (1922-2004) was a colleague, friend and portraitist
of the Bay Area Figurative painters. Initially similar to theirs,
the figures in his work evolved into myth-inspired, classical subjects.
His 1950s and 60s paintings record a conversation between Abstract
Expressionist improvisation and Cubist structure, within a context
of traditional and historic subjects.These, and other references
in the work, illuminate Wolff’s interest in representing
a cultural history steeped in literature. They also portray his
allegiance to a style inspired by early twentieth century Modernist
artists. Ultimately, the human figure stands out as the force of
meaning.Wolff was born in San Francisco in 1922 and studied at
the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute).
He received his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University
of California, Berkeley. Additionally, he studied with Rupert Garcia,
Gordon Cook and Max Beckmann. William Wolff passed away in San
Francisco in 2004.
Warrior, c. 1960, painting on masonite, 48 ” x
An online exhibition at Warnock
Fine Arts, July 2008
Warnock Fine Arts, in conjunction with the estate
of William Wolff, is offering this group of important and rare prints
from this expressive print artist.
Strong interest in William Wolff's work since our exhibit last summer has resulted
in many prints being sold out. Many of these prints have been acquired by public
collections. Museums such as the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, the Library
of Congress, the Oakland Museum of California and the Achenbach collection
at the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts continue to collect his work.
The woodcuts and etchings offered here are important pieces for which there
are only one or two remaining in the estate. William Wolff did not normally
edition his work so all the prints in this exhibition are marked by the artist
as proofs. This was his standard approach to printmaking.
This exhibition is not hanging in the gallery, but all can be seen here on
the web, or by request in the gallery.
December 1, 2007 – January 19, 2008
William Wolff (1922 – 2004)
and 1960s Paintings From the Estate
Charles Campbell Gallery is pleased to present an
exhibition of William F. Wolff paintings from the 1950s and 1960s.
These works trace the development of Wolff’s style over a
period of two decades and provide an exciting view of mid century
modernism. Early paintings of abstracted still lifes and figures
from the 1950s gradually give way to mythologically-inspired subjects.
Wolff initially worked in a style that brought together Abstract Expressionist
improvisation and Cubist structure to traditional subject matter. He shared
studio space with James Weeks in the early Post War years and both artists
shared an interest in experimenting with materials and techniques. Works in
this show are oil and tempera, perhaps house paint, on canvas and masonite.
Early works typifying the Bay Area Figurative Movement gradually evolved into
myth inspired subjects. They were further elaborated in the bold, expressive
woodcuts that Wolff began working with in the 1960s. He is more well known
today for his print works, though his first show of paintings was at the Lucien
Labaudt Gallery, one of the most important for the Bay Area school, in 1951.
William Wolff was born in SF in 1922 and studied at the California School of
Fine Arts (now the SFAI) and received his Bachelors and Masters degrees from
UC Berkeley. Additionally, he studied with Rupert Garcia, Gordon Cook and Max
Thomas Albright, the well-known and respected Bay Area art critic, found in
Wolff’s paintings of this period a sensibility reminiscent of William
Blake’s. This show brings to light a trove of paintings that have rarely
been seen since the 1960s and document the artists’ journey from realism
to symbolism, from visible to invisible.
Tuesday – Saturday noon to 5:00
Reception Saturday December 1, 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Contact: Steven Lopez; or visit our website, www.campbellgallerysf.com
Astral Theater, Oil and Tempera
Painting on Masonite, 1960s, 60” x 72”
the exhibition here
Wolff - Invisible City at Warnock Fine Arts, July 2007
Catalog available for this show at Blurb.com
William Wolff, an artist known for his bold woodcut prints on literary and
mythological subjects, was born in 1922 in San Francisco. Wolff lived his
entire life in that city. After attending Galileo High School with fellow
artist and lifelong friend James Weeks, Wolff studied at the California School
of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute, in the early 1940s. During
World War II he served in the European Theater with the 16th Army Compass
Corps. Returning to his art studies, Wolff received a MA in art in 1951 from
the University of California at Berkeley, sharing a studio with Weeks in
the Marina district from 1949 to 1955. Wolff spent the summer of 1950 studying
at Mills College with visiting German artist Max Beckmann, whose powerful
personality left an indelible stamp on many Bay Area painters including Wolff.
His first major exhibition was at the Lucien Labaudt Gallery, a showcase
for young artists which introduced many artists of the Bay Area Figurative
Movement. He taught at the San Francisco School District’s Youth Guidance
Center from 1957 to 1983.
In the early 1960s Wolff found his artistic direction making woodcut prints,
using the modernist flattening and compression developed in his earlier paintings
to explore the religious, philosophical and literary themes gleaned from his
extensive reading in several languages. He worked for more than thirty years
at the Graphic Arts Workshop, a cooperative print shop in San Francisco, and
served as president of the California Society of Printmakers from 1988 to 1990.
He encouraged younger artists generously, although he was reticent regarding
his own distinctive humanistic work.
A retrospective of his work was held at St. Mary’s College in Moraga
in 2002. His work is in several private and public collections, including the
Achenbach Collection at the Legion of Honor, The Whitney Museum of American
Art, the New York Public Library, the Oakland Museum of California and the
Library of Congress.
Figure with Shield, color woodcut,
1963, 20" x 11 1/2"