The University of Wisconsin Press

Art / Environment


Magnetic North
The Landscapes of Tom Uttech
Margaret Andera
Essay by Lucy Lippard

"Go out into the woods, and see it afresh."—Tom Uttech

One of the most widely admired landscape painters in America, Tom Uttech merges nineteenth-century notions of the ideal landscape with aspects of surrealism and photo-realism to create his unique vision of the North Woods. The artist reestablishes the wilderness as a mystical and magical place where the animal kingdom reigns, the colors of nature flourish, and the forces of the wild are played out. Uttech is inspired by his treks through Wisconsin prairies and woodlands and his camping and canoeing trips to northern Minnesota and Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

Uttech's paintings are distinguished from those of most contemporary landscape artists in that he does no drawings, studies, or photographs while on these excursions. His paintings are studio inventions based entirely on memory and improvisation. Uttech's landscapes have been described as "pure fantasy and, at the same time, absolutely true to nature." His use of high-key colors and his depictions of seemingly airless environments give his work a surreal quality. The intricate detail achieved through the artist's precise painterly touch gives the surfaces of his work a high degree of patterning and articulation. More recently, Uttech has begun to add painted or carved elements to his handmade frames, which are integral components of his work. In addition to paintings, the retrospective also features a selection of the artist's prints and photographs.

Tom Uttech was professor of art at the University of Wisconsin­Milwaukee from 1968 until 1998, when he decided to devote himself to his painting full-time.
Margaret Andera, associate curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum, organized and curated the exhibition Magnetic North: The Landscapes of Tom Uttech, sponsored by We Energies as part of "A Celebration of Nature."

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cover of book about Uttech's art is illustrated with one of his magical paints of the northwoods

Fall 2004

LC: 2004007146 F
120 pp. 10 x 10
15 b/w photos, 30 color images of paintings

This title is currently out of print.

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Paper $29.95 t
ISBN 978-0-944110-66-9
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