Anne Wienholt

spirit-boat

Anne Wienholt

Spirit Boat 25×22×8cm bronze

The most interesting quality of Anne Wienholt’s sculpture and drawings is her constant searching for the innocent vision of the unspoilt eye. Through the act of drawing, and drawing quickly so that it is instinctive and not a selfconscious act, Anne Wienholt stalks reality for this elusive quality. It is a difficult pursuit because we are all more or less drowned in stereotyped ideas about what our eyes see and find it impossible to look beyond the verbal boundaries to the mystery of things in space and time. Anne Wienholt’s sculpture is the final outcome of this searching. It is sophisticated, private, vulnerable and original.

Lou Klepac.

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Pictures of restraint make an impact all their own

June 18 2003 SMH

Two artists show less can be more, when it comes to getting to the essence,

writes Bruce James.
Drawings by Anne Wienholt; new paintings by Branca Uzur, Brian Moore Gallery, to June 28. 294 Glenmore Road, Paddington. Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm. Tel: 02 9380 7100.

The art dealer Brian Moore died on May 18 after a long struggle with cancer. A memorial exhibition to raise funds for medical research will be staged later this year at the gallery, which continues to operate in his name and according to his vision.

Meanwhile, there could hardly be a better testament to Moore’s taste than the shows of drawings from the 1980s and 1990s by Anne Wienholt, and recent paintings by Branca Uzur. Neither artist is a household name, but each can be satisfied in career achievements steeped less in fashion than intellectual fixedness.

Though Wienholt is the older of the pair by about 50 years, enjoying a quiet place in Australian art history, she and Uzur have the quality of pictorial restraint which Moore relished. It would be hard to nominate any artist he championed for whom overstatement was ever a viable creative option. In the case of Wienholt, the only excessive trait she displays is virtuosic draftsmanship, a graphic assurance that informs every flick of the pencil or crayon. Whether seeking the slumping exterior of an ageing model by means of unbroken contours, or summoning the internal energy of a budding plant by pure patches of tonal shading, the California-based expatriate matches the spectacular requirements of nature with the demands of an artistic medium – drawing – which is essentially, and at its noblest, unshowy.

Since her days as a prize-winning student of William Dobell and Frank Medworth at the East Sydney Technical College in the 1940s, Wienholt’s reputation has relied more than anything else on her sobriety of approach. As early as an article in Pix magazine in August, 1944, a writer noted the tendency to “toughnesss and ugliness” in her images, and to a preference for “formalising” her compositions so that they were not slavishly realist or reproductive. In this same commentary, Wienholt’s work is compared with that of her contemporary Freda Robertshaw, another female artist of the ’40s who has undergone a critical reappraisal of late.

Robertshaw’s startling, full-length nude self-portrait in oil-on-canvas was the star attraction of Jane Hylton’s Modern Australian Women exhibition which travelled from the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2001. Wienholt’s own nudes of the period are no less anatomically forthright, although she doesn’t appear to have used her naked self as a subject. It would be fascinating to see a survey show of academic and other nudes produced by students of ESTC in the ’30s and ’40s. Such a show would give historians a vast new context for latter-day body art.

The Pix puff marked the awarding of the New South Wales Travelling Art Scholarship to Wienholt. She was not slow to take it up and make her way in the world. She sailed for America before war’s end, studying in New York with the Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo and the Japanese-American draftsman Yashuo Kuniyoshi. In 1949, Wienholt married the furniture designer and cabinet-maker Masato Takashige. Although Wienholt returns often to Sydney, she’s chosen to be a citizen of the globe. New York was followed by Paris, London and, eventually, Kingston, Jamaica, as working ports of call. In Paris, she studied with the legendary printmaker Stanley William Hayter. Since 1970, she’s called San Francisco home, and it’s there the present drawings were made.

Figures in isolation in domestic space, a modest vase of flowers, a profile of a face – these don’t constitute drama, either visual or psychological. Wienholt seems averse to anything so obvious as a story-line or a literary reference. Her drawings don’t articulate feelings so much as they convey the state-of-being, the flatly existentialist condition, of her subjects. They are somewhat cold. Without this minor chill, a few of them would risk cuteness, and Wienholt would never permit that.

In the US, and to a lesser extent in Australia, Wienholt is known as a sculptor. She showed quirky, figurative bronzes at Irving Sculpture Gallery and David Jones Gallery in Sydney in 1984 and 1989 respectively, and at Adelaide’s Greenhill Galleries in 1990. By report, she sees herself primarily as a worker in three dimensions. The temptation to read her works on paper as the considerations of a sculptor is therefore great, if not absolutely defensible.

While they bear the hallmarks of incisiveness and formal control associated with three-dimensional processes, they also exploit certain, decidedly non-sculptural possibilities. There is always a sense that Wienholt’s drawn images, especially her nudes and portrait studies, are suffused with airiness – a penetrating, dematerialising airiness that undercuts their claim to solidity and mass. They have a lightness about them, due to the softness of Wienholt’s touch and to the swiftness of her attack.

Her sculptures are weightier in every way. What makes them unmistakably the product of a single sensibility is their refusal to be florid and flashy.

Uzur, similarly, seems not to know the meaning of showing off. Her subject matter, featuring armchairs, settees and a patterned chaise-longue or two, might have tempted another artist to outbursts of designer colours and glamorous upholstery effects. She opts for understatement, presenting these furnishings as though they remained at the stage of provisional sketches or blue-prints. Several suggest ghostliness, as if all that is substantial about them has melted into air. Anyone who has seen Uzur’s portrait of the ABC TV executive Sandra Levy, currently touring Australia in the Archibald Prize exhibition, will need no reassurance that the painter knows how to pare back her subjects to their essence. At Brian Moore’s, Uzur proves herself to be a maestro of the not-quite-there.

Biography

Born in Leura NSW in 1920. After studying at the East Sydney Technical College under William Dobell and Frank Medworth, Anne was awarded the 1944 NSW Travalling Scholarship which enabled her to travel to the United States where she arrived on January 1, 1945. Anne had boarded at Merioola, a house in Rosemont Avenue, Woollahra run by Chica Lowe that was home to a number of artists in the 1940s including Mitty Lee Brown, Kate O’Brien and Alec Murray. In New York she studied painting with Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Rufino Tamayo, and printmaking with Stanley William Hayter. She has lived in North America, with a period in Kingston, Jamaica, ever since, but with frequent travels to Europe and regular visits to Australia. Since 1970 she has lived in Marin County, California. She is a sculptor, painter and addicted to drawing.

1938-41
East Sydney Technical College
1944
Awared NSW Travelling Scholarship
1945
Art Students League, New York, USA (Yashuo Kuniyoshi’s Class of 1945)
1947-48
Brooklyn Museum Fine Art School, New York, USA (Rufino Tamayo Class, Winter)
1948-50
Atelier 17, New York, USA (experimental graphic workshop of Stanley William Hayter (Winter)
1948-50
Travel studies, Europe and UK
1968
Teacher, Jamaican School of Art
1970
Moved to California and continued study of sculpture at College of Marin (with Farhad Moezzi and Rick Hall)

Solo Exhibitions

2007
Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2004
Brian Moore Gallery, Sydney
2003
Brian Moore Gallery, Sydney
1990
Greenhill Galleries, Adelaide
1989
David Jones’ Art Gallery, Sydney
1986
Painters Gallery, Sydney
1985
Greenhill Galleries, Adelaide
1984
David Jones’ Art Gallery, Sydney
& Irving Sculpture Gallery, Sydney
1982
Cirrus Gallery, Mill Valley, California
1978
Corte Madera Library, California
1974-75
Humboldt Galleries, San Francisco
1973
Genesis Gallery, Mill Valley, California
1971
Intersection Gallery, San Francisco
1969
Bolivar Gallery, Kingston, Jamaica
1966
Middleton Gallery, Middleton, NY
1949
Charles Fourth Gallery, New York
1948
Carl Ashby Gallery, New York
1942
Macquarie Galleries, Sydney

Selected Group Exhibitions

2010
Still Life, Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2010, 2009, 2008, 2007
Annual Sculpture Survey, Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1999
Merioola and Beyond, Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane
1988
Gift to the Gallery, S.H.Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1986
Merioola and After, S.H.Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1985
Australian Prints, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
1984
Contemporary Views, Fine Arts Gallery, College of Marin, Kentfield, California
1983
San Francisco Art Festival, Fort Mason, California
1980
Redding Museum, Redding, California
San Jose Art Center, San Jose, California
1979
Functional Forms, Oregon State University, Cornvallis
1978
Northern California Figure Dawing, Rose/Bernardi Gallery, Sausalito, California
Fibre Show, Mill Valley Arts Guild, California
1977
Metal Arts Guild Exhibition, Sun Gallery, Hayward, California
1976
22nd Annual Drawing and Small Sculpture Show, Ball State University Art Gallery, Muncie, Indiana
California State Fair, Sacramento, California
1973
Designer/Craftsman ’76, Richmond Art Center, California
1972
Designer/Craftsman ’76, Richmond Art Center, California
1971
60th Fine Arts Exhibition, Austin, Texas
The Metal Experience, Oakland Museum, California
Annual National Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, Oklahoma Art Center, Oklahoma City
1950
Northwest Printmakers, Seattle Art Museum
1949
National Print Annual Exhibition, The Brooklyn Museum
1944
New South Wales Travelling Art Scholarship, c. 1944-11-22 – 1944, (National) Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1943
Contemporary Art Society (Victorian branch) exhibition, Melbourne, Victoria
1941
Australian Aboriginal Art and Its Application, David Jones Gallery, Sydney

Collections

  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • City of Los Altos, California
  • Rockhampton Art Gallery, Queensland
  • Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
  • University of Queensland, Brisbane
  • Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle, New South Wales
  • Mornington Peninsula Arts Centre, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
  • Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart
  • Corporate and Private collections in the USA, UK and Australia including the Margaret Hannah Olley Foundation.


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