William Wolff (1922-2004), “Jaw Bone and Three Red Onions”, oil on masonite, 36 x 48 inches, c. 1955. The painting is unsigned, but unmistakably by Wolff. It is accompanied by a letter from the estate attesting to its authenticity and a receipt from the Charles Campbell Gallery which represented the estate.
William Frederick Wolff was born December 31, 1922, in San Francisco, CA. He attended Galileo High School in San Francisco with James Weeks and Richard Diebenkorn.
He studied at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) from 1939-43 and served with the 16th Army Compass Corps during World War II in Europe. He received both a BA and MA (in art) from University of California, Berkeley in 1950 and 1951. He studied printmaking with Rupert Garcia, lithography with Richard Graf, and etching with Gordon Cook. In 1950 he studied with Max Beckmann at Mills College.
From 1949-1955 Wolff shared a studio with James Weeks. His first exhibition of paintings was at the Lucien Labaudt Gallery in San Francisco in 1951. His preferred medium at the time was oil and tempera on canvas or masonite.
In the 1960s Wolff began focusing on religious and mythologically-inspired modernist woodblock prints. He also worked with etching, silk-screen and lithography. Wolff was active with the California Society of Printmakers and the Graphic Arts Workshop. He taught for many years at the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center.
He had numerous solo shows in San Francisco including at the Lucien Labaudt Gallery, City Lights Bookstore, Trutton Gallery, John Bolles Gallery, San Francisco Arts Commission, Marquoit Gallery, F.J. Michaels Gallery, Printmakers Gallery, Charles Campbell Gallery, Warnock Fine Arts, and ArtZone 461 Gallery.
In 2002, the Hearst Gallery at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA, held a retrospective of his work. Wolff’s art works are also included in the permanent collection of the Achenbach collection at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Library of Congress (print collection), Washington, DC; New York Public Library; Janet Turner Print Gallery, Chico State University; The Oakland Museum of California; Fresno Art Museum; and the Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.
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