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Biographical Note | A Finding Aid to the John Wilde papers, 1935-2011

John Wilde papers, 1935-2011

Biographical Note

John Wilde (1919-2006) was a painter, educator, and draftsman who specialized in silver point and was associated with Magic Realism. He lived and worked in Wisconsin.
Wilde was born near Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 12, 1919. He lived his whole life in Wisconsin except when he served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison for his bachelor and master degrees in art and art history. While at university, Wilde, along with Marshall Glasier, Sylvia Fein, Karl Priebe, Dudley Huppler, and Gertrude Abercrombie, formed a close-knit circle of friends who shared similar ideas on art and painted in the style of Magic Realism. They often met at Priebe's studio in Milwaukee or Abercrombie's house in Chicago. Wilde also met his first wife and fellow art student, Helen Ashman, during this time. Wilde later married Shirley Grilley after Helen's death in 1966.
Wilde completed artwork for several books published by Perishable Press, a publishing company owned by Walter Hamady. He contributed illustrations to John's Apples by Reeve Lindbergh, 1985- The Twelve Months by Hamady, and Five Poems by Khatchik Minasian. Wilde also wrote and illustrated 44 Wilde 1944, What His Mother's Son Hath Wrought (WHMSHW), The Story of Jane and Joan, and co-authored A Hamady Sampler, Salutations 1995 with Hamady. In addition to his collaborations with Perishable Press, Wilde worked with Warrington Colescott, Harvey Littleton, Tandem Press, and Andrew Balkin Editions on various projects.
The Elvehjem Museum of Art, now the Chazen Museum of Art, located at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where Wilde taught art for 35 years, held several exhibitions of Wilde's work including John Wilde: Drawings 1940-1984 (1984), Wildeworld: The Art of John Wilde (1999), and With Friends: Six Magical Realists (2005).
The Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin began representing Wilde in 1993 and continued to represent Wilde's work after his death in Cooksville, Wisconsin on March 9, 2006.