Boston University Art Galleries
Neil Welliver: Recent Paintings and Prints
"Neil Welliver: Recent Paintings and Prints, opens at Boston University's 808 Gallery on Friday, March 3 and continues through April 2, 2000. An opening reception will be held in the gallery at 808 Commonwealth Avenue on Friday, March 2, from 5 - 8 p.m. Poet Mark Strand will present a reading in celebration of the exhibition just prior to the opening, at 4 p.m. in the School for the Arts Concert Hall at 855 Commonwealth Avenue. Both Welliver and Strand will attend the reception. (left: Swan, one of five aquatints from Poems (Ibsen Suite), on Dieu Donne Handmade, 1987, 5 x 6 inches, edition of 75)
Over the past thirty years Welliver has hiked almost daily deep into the Maine wilderness carrying easel, canvas, brushes, oil, thinner, and paint. "His landscapes compel our attention as no one else's do," writes Strand. "Their inclusiveness, their singularity are overwhelming. What we see - and what moves us - are the force and depth of his connection to his chosen terrain."
Greatly influenced by Josef Albers, with whom he studied at Yale, Welliver's work maintains a remarkable balance between representational and abstract. His landscapes "pay homage to the materialism of Courbet, to the large-scale nineteenth-century American landscape, and to Abstract Expressionism, all at once," writes critic Robert Hughes in American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America. "His large paintings of Maine woods could only have matured in the thirty years after Pollock." (left: Magog's Bog,1999, oil on canvas, 72 x 72 inches)
Welliver's work is included in numerous private and public collections including the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Philadelphia Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
Strand and Welliver have a longstanding friendship, dating back to the late 1950s when they were both at Yale. Strand has contributed essays to catalogs of the artist's work, and included him among the nine painters he considered in his 1983 book, The Art of the Real. Strand is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in poetry, has been a Fulbright Scholar, the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Ingram Merrill Foundations. Strand served as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1990. The current U.S. Poet Laureate and Boston University Professor, Robert Pinsky, will introduce his poetry reading. (left: Osprey's Nest, 1979-80, woodcut on Kizuki Sarashi Hanga, 35 3/4 x 36 inches)
Welliver is dedicated to preserving the beauty of the Maine landscape, as well as capturing it on canvas. His own 1,600 acres are presently being protected from possible future development through the creation of land trusts. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of a new Welliver print, Synthetic Blue St. John, will benefit The Nature Conservancy's campaign to preserve the wilderness area of the Upper St. John River watershed in northwestern Maine. (left: Redding Salmon (Northern Sea Trout), 1997-98, etching and woodcut on Arches Cover, 26 3/4 x 36 inches, edition of35)
The exhibition is courtesy of Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York with sponsorship from L.L. Bean, Poland Springs, and Putnam Investments. Following the Boston University exhibition, Neil Welliver: The Prints will travel to Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 724 Fifth Avenue, New York, where it will be on view April 26 - June 9, 2000. (left: Night Scene, 1981-82, Woodcut on Torinoko, 14 x 16 1/4 inches, edition of 90)
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