Charles Thwaites, “Abstraction-Orchard,” encaustic on paper, (c) Museum of Wisconsin Art 2017

This 20th-century painter excelled at both realism and abstraction, but he’s relatively unknown. The Museum of Wisconsin Art is seeking to change the narrative during this compelling exhibition through March.

The name Charles Thwaites may or may not be familiar, but what is certain is the beauty of his work. Opening January 28 at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, Wisconsin, “Charles Thwaites: An American Journey” is a stunning retrospective that “seeks to introduce a new audience to a rare twentieth-century artist who excelled at both realism and abstraction” the museum writes.

“In the 1930s and 1940s, Thwaites was one of the most recognized artists in America with his paintings exhibited in many of the most prestigious galleries and museums. He was the go-to artist in Wisconsin for official portraits and executed four post office murals under the auspices of the WPA in the 1930s.

“In 1954, Thwaites and his wife Antoinette moved permanently to New Mexico, where his realist style slowly transitioned to abstraction and Thwaites became a member of the ‘Taos Moderns’ group. During the 1960s and 1970s, he concentrated on purely abstract work such as the stark black-and-white geometric series that was inspired by natural elements.

“When he died in 2002, Thwaites’ name had faded from the Southwestern art scene, as it had in Wisconsin when he moved away. Now the Museum of Wisconsin Art has the opportunity to restore Thwaites to his rightful place in twentieth-century American art.”

“Charles Thwaites: An American Journey” will be on view through March 12. To learn more visit The Museum of Wisconsin Art.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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