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John Wilde papers, 1935-2011

Wilde, John, 1919-2006

Art teacher, Painter, Draftsmen (artists)

Collection Information

Size: 21.3 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Wisconsin painter, educator, and draftsman John Wilde measure 21.3 linear feet and date from 1935 to 2011. The papers consist of biographical material, correspondence, interviews, writings and notes, 27 journals, personal business records, exhibition files, two scrapbooks, photographic materials, six sketchbooks, artwork, and nearly 90 limited edition, letterpress artist collaboration books - many that include artwork contributed by Wilde.
Biographical materials include certificates and awards, a diploma from the University of Wisconsin, curriculum vitae, memorials, and membership files. Correspondence is with family and friends, and colleagues Karl Priebe, Gertrude Abercrombie, Sylvia Fein, Dudley Huppler, Marshall Glasier, Robert Cozzolino, Theodore Wolff, Peter and Helga Gardetto, Andrew Balkin Editions, Warrington Colescott, Tandem Press, Harvey Littleton, and others. Letters from Walter Hamady are access restricted and housed separately.
There are interviews with Wilde from Harry Bouras' radio show Critics Choice, as well as an interview with Gertrude Abercrombie by Studs Terkel's for Terkel's WFMT radio show broadcast in Chicago.
Wilde discusses his artwork and other topics in 27 journals spanning seven decades. Additional writings by Wilde include term papers, his thesis titled "A Survey of the Development of Surrealism in Painting and Its Chief Innovations with Special Emphasis on the Life and Work of Max Ernst," transcriptions for gallery talks and speeches, notes, and various other writings. Writings about Wilde are by Theodore Wolff, Michael Seefeldt, and other authors. Wilde's personal business records include account books, appraisals, donation papers, inventory books and lists, and a draft of Wilde's last will and testament.
There are exhibition files for "Leaders in Wisconsin Art" (1982), "John Wilde: Drawings 1940-1984" (1984), "Wildeworld: The Art of John Wilde" (1999), "John Wilde: Recent Work" (2003), "With Friends: Six Magical Realists" (2005), and others.
Printed materials include art auction catalogs, calendars, clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, invitations, magazines and journals, poetry booklets, press releases, programs, and an annual report. There are also two scrapbooks containing clippings and other printed materials compiled by Wilde. There are photographs of Wilde, his studio and estate, his close friends and fellow artists, and of works of art by Wilde and others.
A series of nearly 90 artists collaboration books, many illustrated by Wilde, include "Five Poems," by Khatchik Minasian, "Poems for Self Therapy," by George Economou, "Six Poems," by J.D. Whitney, "John's Apples," by Reeve Lindbergh and "44 Wilde 1944," "What His Mother's Son Hath Wrought (WHMSHW)," "The Story of Jane and Joan," and "A Hamady Wilde Sampler/Salutations 1995." Other books are by Walter Hamady, Mary Laird Hamady, and others.
Six sketchbooks contain drawings and studies, as well as sketches of himself, his friends, and of his first wife Helen. Interspersed throughout the sketchbooks are lists of artworks, accounting notes, and other notes and writings. Additional artwork includes files marked as preparatory drawings by Wilde, a large collage by Jerome Karidis titled, "Homage to the Queen Gertrude Abercrombie," and a few drawings by others.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Wilde (1919-2006) was a painter, educator, and draftsman who specialized in silver point and was associated with Magic Realism who lived and worked in Wisconsin.


The John Wilde papers were donated incrementally between 1975 and 2015 by John Wilde and his estate. Portions were previously lent for microfilming. Additional letters from Walter Hamady were lent in December 1999.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

Location of Originals

  • Reel 5661, Walter Hamaday letters: Originals returned to John Wilde after microfilming.