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John Wilde Portrait

John Wilde

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1919

Cooksville, Wisconsin 2006

Active in:

  • Evansville, Wisconsin

Photo Caption:
Sylvia Fein and John Wilde, 1940 or 1941. Unidentified photographer, from Sylvia Fein papers, courtesy Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Luce Artist Quote

“My main concern is simply myself: I am the actor on the stage being depicted.” “Interview with John Wilde,” in Yapelli, John Wilde: Eros and Thanatos, 1993


Born and lives in Wisconsin. Artist whose unusual paintings and drawings have won many awards; professor of art, 1969–82, at the University of Wisconsin.

Charles Sullivan, ed American Beauties: Women in Art and Literature (New York: Henry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with National Museum of American Art, 1993)

Additional Biographies

Luce Artist Biography

John Wilde loved to draw and paint when he was a boy, and remembered that he was “particularly fond of drawing imaginary cities” (Wolff, “John Wilde,” The Christian Science Monitor, July 2, 1986). He modeled maps and designed camouflage for the army during World War II, and studied art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he later taught for thirty-four years. Wilde created small, detailed paintings that showed surreal nude figures, animals, and objects in strange landscapes. He detested the modern painting style of the 1950s and ’60s, with its “pounds and pounds and layers of paint, thick as sin and nauseatingly viscous,” and preferred to live away from its influence in the “boondocks” of Wisconsin (Wilde, What His Mother’s Son Hath Wrought, 1988).