Saturday, January 24, 2015

Jane Wilson (1924 - 2015)

Jane Wilson, painter of evocative ethereal landscapes, passed away January 13th 2015. Elegant artist and inspiration, she will be missed.
Jane Wilson with one of her paintings
photograph by Gordon Parks
Life Magazine May 13, 1957 Women Artists in Ascendance  via
Born on an Iowa farm, Jane Wilson met and fell in love with John Jonas Gruen at the University of Iowa while they were both students there. They married and moved to Greenwich Village in 1949. The couple became a part of New York City's vibrant art scene, Jane with her paintings and John with his writing and photography. John lovingly captures Jane's image in so many photographs over the years. 
Trees at Mecox by Jane Wilson 1958
Oil on Linen, 17 1/8" x 12"
Parrish Art Museum via
"One day in the '50s I just woke up one morning thinking about painting and everybody is painting wildly abstractly and being very serious and macho, and I thought, 'Oh, I really like subject matter,'"
Jane Wilson Wall Street Journal Interview here
Jane Wilson in front of her painting, The Open Scene, 1960
Collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Photograph by John Jonas Gruen, May 1960.
image via
The Open Scene by Jane Wilson 1960
Oil on Canvas 60 3/8" x 6' 8"
Museum of Modern Art via
The couple put a down payment on their Water Mill carriage house in 1960 after Ms. Wilson sold a work to the Museum of Modern Art. "My mother thought it was the craziest idea my father had had up to that point, but of course she loves it." interview with Julia Gruen here
Jane Wilson in Still Life
photograph by John Jonas Gruen 1957 via
Onions by Jane Wilson 1970
oil on canvas 21 " x 21"
Parrish Art Museum via
Jane Wilson at the Hansa Gallery New York 1957
Photograph by Douglas Rodewald via
Andy and Lilacs by Jane Wilson 1960
Oil on Linen, 30" x 42"
Whitney Museum of American Art via
Gift of Andy Warhol
Jane Wilson, Water Mill New York 1961
Photograph by John Jonas Gruen
image via
The Wave 1988 by Jane Wilson 1988
Oil on Linen 77" x 100"
Parrish Art Museum via 
John Jonas Gruen and Jane Wilson
Harpers Bazaar July 1966
image via
Near Night, Tompkins Square 1964 by Jane Wilson 1964
Oil on Canvas, 40" x 35"
image via
Willem de Kooning, Jane Wilson and daughter Julia Gruen 
photograph John Jonas Gruen 1962 via
Sun After Rain by Jane Wilson 1990
Oil on Canvas, 60" x 70"
image via
"What I'm aiming for are moments of strong sensation, moments of total physical experience of the landscape, when weather just reaches out and sucks you in. And the challenge of trying to trigger those moments with pigments of ground-up earth. When you think about it, it's really very mysterious." - Jane Wilson, 1991 via
Jane Wilson, Water Mill New York 1962
Photograph by John Jonas Gruen
image via
Rain, Heavy at Times, by Jane Wilson 2004
Oil on Canvas 60" x 70"
image via
Jane Wilson in her Water Mill studio, June 4, 2000
Photograph by John Jonas Gruen
image via
Another Midnight by Jane Wilson 2009
Oil on Canvas 11" x 14" 
image DC Moore Gallery via
Jane Wilson and John Jonas Gruen
Water Mill Studio c 2002
Photo by Jonathan Becker
Frozen Fields by Jane Wilson 2004
Oil on Linen 30" x 36"
DC Moore Gallery image via
Ms.Wilson starts each new work with a horizontal line near the bottom of the canvas. Not necessary a bold line, but something she can use to orient herself. "I know I want a lot of sky," she said. "My subject is really atmosphere and the quality of air as we live it. That's what I think about: the vitality in surrounding spaces." WSJ 2010 via
Flying Clouds by Jane Wilson
image via Hampton's Art Hub
Donated by the artist to the East End Artist Supporting Artists fundraiser 2011
with Julia on the beach in Water Mill
image via
Ms. Gruen wrote of her mother that “Water Mill is my mother. She found lifelong inspiration in the land, sea, and sky of this place, and I felt nurtured by it, as much as by her. But could a child grasp the significance of my parents’ circle of friends? 
De Kooning, Rauschenberg, Johns, Fairfield Porter, Larry Rivers, Marisol, Jane Freilicher, Lukas Foss, Virgil Thomson, Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Leiber, Stella Adler, Arthur Gold and Bobby Fizdale, Frank O’Hara, Edward Albee, John Ashbery, James Schuyler, to name only a few? No.”
“My father’s photographs recorded very specific moments and occasions, but for five decades, my mother’s paintings have provided the atmospheric evocation of and window onto my childhood. Over the past decade, I’ve been obsessively photographing the skies in Water Mill . . . but whenever I look up, I always see a Jane Wilson sky.” quote via
Jane Wilson is survived by her husband John Jonas Gruen and daughter Julia Gruen. I wish you both my sincerest sympathy.
Artist Jane Wilson, 90, Lives on in East End Nature - 27 East here
Jane Wilson, Noted Landscape Painter - East Hampton Star here
Jane Wilson - Paris Review here
Jane Wilson, Artist of the Etherial, Dies at 90 - NY Times here
Jane Wilson at 90 East Village/East End - DC Moore Gallery here
Scumbling in a Studio of Her Own - Wall Street Journal 11/27/10 here
Jane Wilson by Mimi Thompson - Interview with BOMB Magazine 1991 here
Jane Wilson's Palette
image via
A painting can take four or five sittings to finish, or four or five years. "You get stuck," she said. "You don't know what the hell is going on.  You get mad at the painting so you turn its face to the wall. And then one day you turn it around and you think, "Oh, I know what's wrong. And why couldn't I see it before?" But I couldn't see it before. So I proceed from there. And I think most people work like that. I'm working on many, many paintings at the same time. The more the better. " WSJ interview 2010 via


  1. They look like a very magnetic couple as well as looking at the youthful images..and then the later years..Love the palette..I had a client who was an of his barns was his atelier..I loved his art table so much I took photos every time..He has passed now..I am sure I have the photos somewhere.
    Have a lovely Sunday.

  2. Wow, thanks so much for this great post on an artist I had not known about. I love her art and she was incredibly chic! A sad loss for the art community.


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