Breaking the Rules: Paul Wonner and Theophilus Brown

Jan 30, 2024 - Mar 30, 2024
10:00am to 5:00pm
Jan 30, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Jan 31, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 1, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 2, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 3, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 6, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 7, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 8, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 9, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 10, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 13, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 14, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 15, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 16, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 17, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 20, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 21, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 22, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 23, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 24, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 27, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 28, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 29, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 1, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 2, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 5, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 6, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 7, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 8, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 9, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 12, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 13, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 14, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 15, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 16, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 19, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 20, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 21, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 22, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 23, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 26, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 27, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 28, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 29, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Mar 30, 2024 at 10:00am – 5:00pm
Price:

Free

Dixon Gallery and Gardens
4339 Park Avenue
Memphis, TN 38117
United States

Description:

In reaction to the widespread pursuit of Abstract Expressionism in the late 1940s and early 1950s, several avant-garde artists in the San Francisco Bay Area began to reengage with the visible world, applying the gestural style of action painting to depictions of people, landscapes, and still life. Two such artists were Paul Wonner (1920–2008) and William “Theophilus” Brown (1919–2012), who met in 1952 at the University of California, Berkeley, and remained a couple for fifty-six years.

Wonner and Brown are considered California artists, though neither was a native of the state. Wonner was born in Tucson, Arizona; Brown hailed from Moline, Illinois. They both earned Master of Arts degrees from Berkeley, and Wonner obtained an additional graduate degree in library science. During this period, they shared a studio above an automobile dealership in Berkeley, the same building where Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff would come to have workspaces. These artists began to get together for drawing sessions, and the style they collectively created became known as Bay Area Figuration and helped to change the course of American art history.

Over time, both artists’ works became less gestural and more overtly representational and, in Wonner’s case, increasingly detailed and precise. Brown became best known for his psychologically evocative landscapes with classic bathers, as well as for his lonely urban scenes. Wonner also painted figures but received the greatest acclaim for his “baroque” still lifes laden with everyday objects, animals, and flowers. Breaking the Rules, which includes seventy-five paintings, watercolors, and drawings spanning the entirety of the artists’ careers, showcases all these genres in the most comprehensive exhibition of each artist’s work to date. The title of the show was inspired by a review of the 1988 exhibition, Painting from the San Francisco Bay Area, in which both artists’ works were featured prominently and were described as showing a “delightfully pugnacious spirit of rule-breaking.”