This post uses the “Palmer Museum of Art” tag and “Exhibition” tag
Drawn to Paint: The Art of Jerome Witkin
February 26–May 5, 2013
Jerome Witkin, The Act of Judith, 1979–80, oil on canvas. Gift of the National Academy of Design, Henry Ward Ranger Fund, 83.45.
Inveterate visitors to the Palmer Museum are likely well familiar with the art of Jerome Witkin. The Palmer counts three important Witkin canvases among its holdings, including—much to the delight of thousands of schoolchildren who have roamed the galleries over the years—his portrait of the portly Jeff Davies, and the museum’s walls are seldom absent the artist’s presence. This spring, the museum is pleased to host a major retrospective of Witkin’s work, featuring nearly forty paintings and drawings that span more than four decades of his career.
Witkin has been widely acknowledged as one of the country’s leading figurative painters. His narrative canvases, often extending over multiple large panels, reference the grand European tradition of history painting while remaining relevant to their time through a penetrating examination of contemporary issues. With a concern for vulnerability as his basic theme, Witkin addresses the widest range of human anguish in his work, from the genocidal violence of the Holocaust, in paintings such as Entering Darkness and Beating Station, to the disintegration of personal relationships—Division Street, for example, records the dissolution of his parents’ marriage.
Although he has won praise for his superb drawing—the artist Mark Tansey has characterized him simply as the most skilled draftsman of the human figure he knows—Witkin is equally admired for his sense of color. Indeed, the expressionist flourish with which he applies his oils to the canvas often renders large passages in his compositions as deliciously daubed as a Willem de Kooning or a Lee Krasner.
Drawn to Paint, organized by the Syracuse University Art Galleries, celebrates a career that spans a half century. For more than forty of those years, since 1971, Witkin has been teaching painting at Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.