Emerson Woelffer
American, 1914-2003
Collected by major museums
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
Selected exhibitions
L.A. in S.B.: A Postwar and Contemporary Exhibition,
Sullivan Goss
Vallarino Fine Art at Art Miami 2017,
Vallarino Fine Art
Tamarind Salon,
Tamarind Institute

Self-styled “Abstract Surrealist” Emerson Woelffer was an influential teacher and practitioner of a distinct strand of Abstract Expressionism. Drawing influence from László Moholy-Nagy (for whom he worked for seven years), Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, and Roberto Matta (who encouraged his use of free association), Woelffer developed an abstract style characterized by saturated colors and bold, jagged forms that hinted at symbolism and figuration. “I always work first and think later,” he said. “There is no idea to begin with. I just start and it works or it doesn’t. It’s not about anything like a tree or an apple.” Woelffer taught at several major American art schools, including a stint at Black Mountain College at the invitation of architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller. “He was an American original, a tender tough guy who turned a lot of people on to the beauty of abstract …

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