ART OF CHARLES W. THWAITES
of the struggles of the Great Depression, Charles W. Thwaites
(1904-2002) rose to prominence as a muralist and leading
portraitist in Wisconsin. An active exhibitor in hundreds
of local, regional and national art exhibitions, he won
awards and critical acclaim from New York to California.
began his career straddling the cultural demands for a
truly American art while being lured to the formalism
of European modernism and the freedom of expression it
espoused. When he moved to New Mexico in the 1950s, he
found camaraderie with the Taos Moderns, going on to create
sophisticated abstractions that synthesized his personal
response with universal emotions.
this first examination of Thwaites’ biography and oeuvre,
examples of his Wisconsin and New Mexico paintings are
put into the context of American art. Also included are
numerous excerpts from his writings, which are profound
observations on the meaning of art and the goals of an
artist who authentically responds to his inner spirit.
of expression, underpinned by disciplined study of nature,
art history and the self, were the raison d’etre of this
artist who disdained being labeled or placed in a category.
As he noted,
are 1,000 ways to paint, why limit yourself to one manner?
It is of no importance whether a picture is “modern,”
“academic,” or what have you. Is it good art, is it bad
painting, or is it just philosophy—is to understand your
likes and dislikes in an organized way.
is destined to be recognized as one of America’s most
skilled, colorful, and admired post-World War II modernists.
Hallsten McGarry is an independent curator and writer
living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She earned her master’s
degree in art history from the University of Minnesota
and served as editor-in-chief of Southwest Art magazine
from 1979 to 1997. McGarry has authored more than fifteen
books and catalogs on American artists and contributed
to many more.