Seven landscapes by Neil Welliver, one of the foremost American landscape painters of his generation, are on view at the Dean's Gallery (Room E52-466) through Monday, Jan. 15.
The landscapes, all serigraphs, evoke the mystery and majesty of the Maine coast and woods, which Welliver, who died in 2005 at age 75, painted for over four decades.
Welliver worked from open-air sketches, toting some 75 pounds of art supplies deep into the woods in search of what he called "places of power," according to an obituary in the Boston Globe.
Welliver described these places as "often nondescript corners, small things," yet they yielded large canvases, sometimes as large as 8 by 10 feet. Critic Robert Hughes of Time magazine called Welliver's works "among the strongest images in modern American art."
In his paintings, Welliver portrayed intimate spaces in nature, particularly those into which darkness leaned and where sunlight was occluded. He persisted in seeking out and depicting the rushing water and rocky hills of his chosen home even as tragedy stalked his personal life - his second wife, infant daughter and two young adult sons all predeceased him, and his home and studio burned to the ground.
Welliver was born in 1929 in the Pennsylvania lumber town of Millville; he graduated from the Philadelphia College of Art and received the MFA degree from Yale University, where he studied with Josef Albers. Welliver taught at Yale from 1956 to 1966 and at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Fine Art fro m 1966 to 1989. He settled in Lincolnville, Maine, in 1970, and commuted to Philadelphia to teach for 19 years.
Welliver's works hang in major museums including the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, in New York.
The works in the Dean's Gallery were completed in the 1970s, the decade in which Welliver's wife and daughter died and his home and studio were destroyed.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 10, 2007 (download PDF).