'Drawn to Paint: The Art of Jerome Witkin' now on view at the Palmer Museum of Art

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Palmer Museum of Art is presenting "Drawn to Paint: The Art of Jerome Witkin" through May 5.

Inveterate visitors to the Palmer Museum are likely well familiar with the art of Witkin. The Palmer counts three important Witkin canvases among its holdings, including — much to the delight of thousands of schoolchildren who have roamed the galleries over the years — his portrait of the portly Jeff Davies, and the museum’s walls are seldom absent the artist’s presence. This spring, the museum is pleased to host a major retrospective of Witkin’s work, featuring nearly 40 paintings and drawings that span more than four decades of his career.

Witkin has been widely acknowledged as one of the country’s leading figurative painters. His narrative canvases, often extending over multiple large panels, reference the grand European tradition of history painting while remaining relevant to their time through a penetrating examination of contemporary issues. With a concern for vulnerability as his basic theme, Witkin addresses the widest range of human anguish in his work, from the genocidal violence of the Holocaust, in paintings such as "Entering Darkness" and "Beating Station," to the disintegration of personal relationships — "Division Street," for example, records the dissolution of his parents’ marriage.

Although he has won praise for his superb drawing — the artist Mark Tansey has characterized him simply as the most skilled draftsman of the human figure he knows — Witkin is equally admired for his sense of color. Indeed, the expressionist flourish with which he applies his oils to the canvas often renders large passages in his compositions as deliciously daubed as a Willem de Kooning or a Lee Krasner.

"Drawn to Paint," organized by the Syracuse University Art Galleries, celebrates a career that spans a half century. For more than 40 of those years, since 1971, Witkin has been teaching painting at Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Patrick McGrady, Charles V. Hallman Curator, will give a gallery talk titled "Drawn to Paint: The Art of Jerome Witkin" at 12:10 p.m. March 1.

Christian Brady, dean, Schreyer Honors College, and associate professor of classics and ancient Mediterranean studies and Jewish studies, will give a Perspectives Unbound gallery talk titled "The Act of Judith" at 12:10 p.m. March 22.

Witkin, artist and professor of painting at Syracuse University, will give an Artist Lecture titled "Drawn to Paint: The Art of Jerome Witkin" on at 4:30 p.m. April 9, in the Palmer Lipcon Auditorium. Witkin is best known for narrative paintings that exemplify technical brilliance, psychological intensity and a deep concern for humanity. In this lecture, Witkin will discuss his artistic process, creative vision and the sources of inspiration that have shaped his long career. A reception in the Christoffers Lobby will follow the lecture, which is co-sponsored by the museum and the School of Visual Arts John M. Anderson Endowed Lecture Series.

All gallery talks begin in the galleries unless otherwise noted. A greeter will be available in the lobby to direct visitors to the appropriate gallery for all noontime events. The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State is located on Curtin Road and admission is free. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and some holidays. Reduced hours over spring break are noon to 4 p.m. March 2 to 10. The museum will be closed March 4 and 31. 

The Palmer Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The Chevron Corp. is the Palmer Museum of Art’s major corporate sponsor.

Children’s and family programs are partially funded by the James E. Hess and Suzanne Scurfield Hess Endowment for Art Education in the Palmer Museum of Art, and the Ruth Anne and Ralph Papa Endowment. All other programs are sponsored by the Friends of the Palmer Museum of Art unless otherwise noted.

Also on view at the Palmer Museum of Art this spring are "Lit with Piercing Glances: Linocuts by James Mullen," continuing through May 19; and “'Varied and Untried'”: Early Twentieth–Century American Paintings from the James and Barbara Palmer Collection," continuing through May 5.

For more information or to request images, please contact Jennifer Feehan, coordinator of membership and public relations, at 814-863-9182 or jenfeehan@psu.edu.

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated April 29, 2013