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Things of Nature and the Nature of Things
John Wilde
Lisa Wainwright

Chazen Museum of Art Catalogs

Visual parables on the existential condition of modern man

John Wilde (1919–2006) was one of the most notable artists in the Magic Realist school of painting, garnering attention far beyond Wisconsin, his native state. Wilde's gift for drawing and painting diverged from the style of regional artists such as John Steuart Curry and evolved into an aesthetic characterized by beguiling, intensely detailed images. He was particularly adept at mixing the discipline of taxonomy with icons of the subconscious.

Things of nature and the nature of things informed his work for some seventy years. In painstakingly crafted vignettes of figures and props and still life arrangements, Wilde served up grand parables on the existential condition of modern man. These are timeless and enduring narratives, drawing on traditions from the northern and early Renaissance periods and Flemish paintings to Symbolist and Surrealist iconography and strategy. Wilde amasses a potpourri of sources and motifs and brings them up to the present moment by setting his compositions in the Wisconsin landscape just outside his studio door. This catalogue presents a superb overview of Wilde's oeuvre, including the full palette of still lifes, allegorical landscapes, and portraits, and covers the period of his work from the 1940s to recent work from the 1990s.

Lisa Wainwright is Dean of Graduate Studies at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Distributed for the Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin–Madison

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A man and woman are seated in a green tinted field of animal skulls above the title.

February 2007
48 pp. 9 x 10 16 b/w, 20 color illus.
Paper ISBN 978-0-932900-98-2

OUT OF PRINT
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