Paul Wonner (1920 – 2008)
Paul Wonner is best known for his figurative, abstract expressionist, and still-life paintings. Much of his work focuses on figures in a landscape or room, non-objective abstraction, or still life paintings with small objects, jars, pitchers, fruit, etc.
Wonner was interested in art as a youth, and his parents hired a tutor to help him with his drawing during high school. He was born in Tucson, Arizona, in 1920, and after his early art education, set out for California in 1937. He settled in Oakland, where he attended the California College of Arts and Crafts. His art school experience provided Wonner with basic drawing and painting techniques. He graduated from CCAC in 1941 and was soon drafted into the United States Army. During his service, stationed in San Antonio, Texas, he continued his pursuit of art and even set up a small local studio.
He was discharged in 1946 and immediately headed for New York City to continue his artistic career. During the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1940s, Wonner worked as a commercial artist in New York City. To satisfy his interest in art, he studied at the Art Students League and attended lectures at Robert Motherwell’s studio, where he was exposed to other artists, critics, and writers. He returned to California in 1950 to attend the University of California, Berkeley. At UC Berkeley, he was influenced by the elements of Cubism.
In 1957 he joined a group of eleven other artists for an exhibition called Contemporary Bay Area Figurative Painting at the Oakland Museum. He established a studio in San Francisco in 1960, where he continued to focus on his developing figurative style. During the 1960s, his paintings dealt with individual objects arranged in a setting. He accepted a teaching position at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1968 and taught in various locations in the Los Angeles area. Finally, he settled in San Francisco in 1976, where he continued to work as an Abstract Realist, creating his still lives.
Paul Wonner died on Wednesday, April 23, 2008, on the eve of his 88th birthday in San Francisco.
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Edan Hughes, “Artists in California 1786-1940”
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