John Wilson in the Foundation Case

All Current Exhibits  February 12, 2022

This installation is dedicated to John Wilson’s talent and passion for drawing. Whether it was a gesture, a slight motion, or an unusual posture, the artist’s keen ability to translate his observations to paper is remarkable. Wilson frequently carried small pieces of paper in preparation for the moment when something caught his eye. These small drawings attest to his persistent desire to capture that moment.

John Wilson (1922-2015), a skilled painter, draftsman, printmaker and sculptor, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1922. His exceptional artistic talent was recognized and nurtured by his teachers at the Roxbury Boys’ Club. After his work was brought to the attention of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Wilson received a full scholarship. By his early 20s, Wilson’s work was included in several gallery exhibitions, had won numerous awards, and appeared in several prestigious magazines. Wilson graduated from the Museum School in 1945 with the highest honors. In the same year, one of his works was included in the groundbreaking exhibition “The Negro Artist Comes of Age” at the Albany Institute of History and Art. These successes were followed by two grants that allowed Wilson to study in Paris with Fernand Leger (1947-1949) and live and study in Mexico (1950-1956). Wilson was drawn to the work of the Mexican José Clemente Orozco, an artist whose work, both in form and content, paralleled his desire to create compelling images that exposed the oppression experienced by African Americans.

Wilson returned to the States in 1956, first to Chicago where he produced illustrations for a packinghouse workers union, then to New York where he taught art at several schools. In 1964, Wilson moved to Massachusetts to accept the position of professor at the School of Fine and Applied Arts, Boston University. He served as a consultant to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston during the founding of the National Center of Afro-American Artists.

These small 3 x 5 inch drawings demonstrate John Wilson’s ability to create beautiful images at any scale.

(American, 1922-2015)
Young Boy on a Bus
Inscribed Bus and signed Wilson on the reverse
Black ink on paper
5 x 3 inches

Courtesy of Martha Richardson Fine Art, Boston