Charles Thwaites: An American Journey 

January 28–March 12, 2017 Past Exhibitions
Image for Charles Thwaites, Ranchos de Taos Valley, encaustic on paper, 1952, Museum of Wisconsin Art 2011-213 (detail)Charles Thwaites, Ranchos de Taos Valley, encaustic on paper, 1952, Museum of Wisconsin Art 2011-213 (detail)

 

Image for Charles Thwaites, Patterns in Black and White, acrylic on masonite, 1961 (detail)Charles Thwaites, Patterns in Black and White, acrylic on masonite, 1961 (detail)

 

Charles Thwaites: An American Journey seeks to introduce a new audience to a rare twentieth-century artist who excelled at both realism and abstraction.  

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 becoming 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.

Enjoy the Book
The story of Charles Thwaites’s exceptional work over six decades is told in a 120-page, full-color catalogue, The Art of Charles W. Thwaites: Freedom of Expression, by Susan Hallsten McGarry. Now available in the MOWA shop.