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 Jon Schueler: American (1926 - 1992)

Jon Schueler
Blue Series I (1973)
Oil on Canvas :: 14 x 12

about the artist

Born in Milwaukee and schooled at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, Jon Schueler traveled in circles that included such revolutionary figures of post War American painting as Richard Diebenkorn, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt and Clyfford Still, an early mentor and a lifelong friend.

Certainly Schueler received more than a fair amount of recognition as an important experimenter in American painting. His canvases were handled by some of New York’s most far-sighted dealers in new art. He was given one-man shows at such hallowed institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art. His paintings entered the collections of such institutions as the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corcoran gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Art Institute, the Detroit Institute of Art and the Whitney. But it may be that his name would be better known today had he not so frequently expatriated himself from America to live and work abroad.

Jon was the only child of George and Clara Schueler. The family lived on Milwaukee’s East Side in a large home on Hackett Avenue. Schueler’s mother died just five months after his birth. His father, the owner of the George Schueler Tire Co., eventually remarried, and had a home built on Lake Drive in Whitefish Bay where Jon went to high school.

Schueler’s earliest ambition was to be a writer. He attended the UW where he obtained a master’s degree in English literature. In 1947, he took a teaching position at San Franscisco University where he remained for two years. Almost as a lark, he signed up for a portrait painting class and discovered he enjoyed painting so much that he enrolled full time at the California School of Fine Art, San Francisco. It was there where he started studying under Still, and then three of the royals of the so-called Bay School of figuration, Diebenkorn, David Park and Elmer Bischoff. Schueler left California in 1951 to set up a studio in New York. His large, expressively painted canvases immediately identified him as a member in good standing of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Soon, he was showing at the Stable Gallery on 74th street, a place that gave the first shows to Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol and that also represented the likes of Conrad Marca-Relli, Joan Mitchell, Joseph Cornell and Alex Katz. Within a couple years, Schueler left to join the Leo Castelli Gallery where, in 1957 and 1959, he was given one-man shows that sold well.

Wanderlust always stirred in Schueler’s soul. He traveled to Scotland in 1957 and happened upon Maillag, a small fishing village on the western coast. He was mesmerized by the great mood swings of the sea and the skies and set up a studio there. After a six month stay, he came back to New York, but continually felt a pull to go back to Maillag. He returned there regularly in the years ahead and beginning in 1970, remained grounded there for five years. He also spent extended painting sojourns in Paris and Italy.

Schueler painted abstractly from the time he started studying with Still. He was identified as an Abstract Expressionist. But, like the canvases of his fellow Ab Ex compatriots Joan Mitchell and to some extent Jackson Pollock, the paintings of Schueler’s mature style can never be read as being totally nonobjective, and this was doubly true after he started spending more of his life in coastal Scotland. He never entirely shed the influences of Still, Rothko and the other Abstract Expressionists he so admired, but he fell under the spell of another painter, J.M.W. Turner. From then on, it would seem, always Schueler’s paintings would have clear roots in nature, specifically light and night, days a-borning, days dying.

A Homecoming: Jon Schueler (1916-1992), running from April 20 through June 2, 2007, at the Dean Jensen Gallery, is the first ever to be presented in Wisconsin by this native son.

selected solo exhibitions

  • 1954/61/68 Stable Gallery, New York
  • 1957/59 Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
  • 1960 Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York
  • 1971 Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 1973 Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland
  • 1975 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  • 1980 John C. Stoller & Co., Minneapolis, MN
  • 1981/84 Dorothy Rosenberg Gallery, Chicago
  • 1981 University of Edinburgh, Talbot Rice Art Centre, Scotland
  • 1982/86/91 Dorry Gates Gallery, Kansas City, MO
  • 1983/84 A.M. Sachs Gallery, New York
  • 1986/87/89/91 Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery, New York
  • 99/2002/1995/96/99 ACA Galleries, New York
  • 2002/06 Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 2007 Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney, Australia
  • 2007 Dean Jensen Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

selected exhibitions

  • 1955 Vanguard 1955, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
  • 1957/59/61 Whitney Museum of American Art Annual
  • 63/65/69
  • 1959-61 School of New York: Some Younger Talent, Stable Gallery (touring)
  • 1960 Abstract Expressionists of the Fifties, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
  • 1973 A Period of Exploration: San Francisco, 1945-50. Oakland, CA Museum
  • 1975 Landscapes: Interior and Exterior, Avery, Rothko, Schueler, Cleveland (OH) Museum of Art
  • 1996 Pintura Estadounidense Expresionismo Abtracto, Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporanreo, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 2007 A Culture In the Making: New York and San Francisco In the 1950s, Hackett-Friedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA

price range:

$5,000 - $100,000