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jon schueler

Past Exhibitions: 2008 2007 2006 2005

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exhibition information:

Jon Schueler: A Homecoming (1916-1992)

April 20 - June 2, 2007

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opening reception:

To Be Announced

about the artist:

Born in Milwaukee and schooled at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, Jon Schueler traveled in circles that included such lions of post-World War II art as Richard Diebenkorn, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still, an early mentor and a lifelong friend.

Schueler himself received more than a fair amount of recognition as an important member of the new vanguard in American painting. His canvases were handled by some of New York’s most far-sighted dealers. 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 Detroit Institute of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Whitney. But his name would be better known today had he not so frequently expatriated himself to live and work abroad.

Jon was the only child of George and Clara Schueler. The family lived on Hackett Avenue on Milwaukee’s East Side. Schueler’s mother died just six months after his birth. His father, 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 began teaching at the University of San Franscisco. As a lark, he enrolled in a portrait painting class. He enjoyed it so much that he enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco. There, he began studies under Still, and then such figures of the Bay Area Figurative School as Diebenkorn, David Park and Elmer Bischoff. Schueler left California in 1951 to set up a studio in New York. His large, freely painted canvases immediately identified him as a member in good standing of the Abstract Expressionist movement.

Soon, he was showing at the important Stable Gallery, a place that represented the likes of Conrad Marca-Relli, Joan Mitchell, Joseph Cornell and Alex Katz and was to give the first shows to Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol. Within a couple years, Schueler left to join the Leo Castelli Gallery where, in 1957 and 1959, he was given one-man shows. His paintings started appearing in group and one-man museum shows, including a solo outing in 1975 at the Whitney.

Wanderlust always stirred in Schueler’s soul. In 1957, he traveled to Scotland and happened upon Maillag, a small fishing village. He was left bewitched by the place and established a studio there. The waters of the Sound of Sleat, the bruise-colored clouds, the mists that sometimes veiled and sometimes parted from the distant Isle of Skye presented an almost second-by-second changing visual drama. He came back to New York after a six month stay, but almost immediately yearned to go back to Maillag. He returned there regularly in the years ahead, including a period when he stayed grounded there from 1970 to 1975. There were also stretches when he sojourned in Paris and Italy.

Schueler painted abstractly from the time he started studying with Still. He was almost always identified as an Abstract Expressionist of the second generation. But his canvases from the last 25 years of his life, like those of other Ab Ex painters like Joan Mitchell and to some extent Jackson Pollock, can never be read as being totally nonobjective. He never entirely shed the influences of Still and Rothko whom he so admired, but from the time of his earliest stays in coastal Scotland, he fell under the spell of another painter, the great 19th century British master of light, J.M.W Turner. From then on, it would seem, always his paintings would have their roots in nature, specifically light and night, days a-borning, days dying.

The exhibition at the Dean Jensen Gallery, is the first by the painter to be presented anywhere in his home state.
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