John Wilde’s career has spanned more than six decades. His first one person exhibition was in 1940 at the Zona Gale Museum in Portage, his most recent in February, 2006, at the Tory Folliard Gallery, Milwaukee. More than 1200 paintings and drawings by Wilde are held in private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters as well as Emeritus Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he taught drawing from 1952 through 1982.
John displayed early skills in draughtsmanship from boyhood. In high school he was motivated by visits to the studios of Santos Zingale, Alfred Sessler, and soon after studied with Milwaukee artist, Paul Clemens. Speaking of Wilde’s university days, fellow artist and close friend, Sylvia Fein, is quoted in the Chazen Museum’s 2005 exhibition catalogue for the exhibit titled, With Friends, as she spoke about John: “It was apparent from the beginning that something extraordinary was taking place. This just wasn’t talent and training. There was [something] supernatural happening, rare, exquisite, fierce, very consistent and stable and constantly generating and cranking out [work] with no apparent struggle or missteps.”
In Madison and Milwaukee in the 1940’s and 50’s he associated with a group of like minded artists thereby entering into a loose fellowship now dubbed “The Magic Realists”. He was arguably chief and unique among them in terms of accomplishment, style, reputation and influence. He is certainly one of the best known artists from Wisconsin in contemporary times.
Works by John Wilde