Press Releases



"Sol Wilson: Expressionist Realist"


Artists Reception 7pm Friday, August 10.

Exhibition continues through September 2.



Sol Wilson has been critically referred to as an "expressive realist with a tendency toward romanticizing -- on the somewhat somber side -- man's contest with nature."  He is best known for his seascapes, cityscapes, and paintings of construction sites where gangs of workers are building bridges and laying pipeline, or fishermen are struggling in the midst of a storm -- man wrestling with the often harsh natural world.  The dramatic event and the expression of strong feeling combine to create a palpable mood in Wilson's painting.  Even the quieter paintings, such as Evening Meal, 1964, in which he depicts fishermen at home gathered with family for supper, contain a reserved drama and emotional power. Wilson comments on his theme in a 1962 interview:  "I have always sensed the mystery in Nature.  This kind of mysticism is inborn and I never fight my own nature."


A highly respected and sought after teacher at the Y.M.H.A., the School of Art Studies, American Artists School, and the Art Students League in New York, Wilson instructed his students: "You cannot escape your own feelings, or your lack of feeling about life in your painting."  The artist, he believed, must put his whole self into his work.  He said that "an artist paints not only with the sum and substance of his technical equipment, but with whatever humanity and biography and aspiration he possesses, with what he has read and seen, wants and hopes."


Wilson himself was deeply influenced by his teacher at the Ferrer School, George Bellows.  In referring to Bellows, Wilson might be describing his own style of teaching.  He says that Bellows was very important to his work "because of his [Bellows] directness in painting methods and because he was a real human being.  Never pedantic -- never 'the professor.'  He was one of us and frequently became one of his own class, by actually drawing along with his students."   


Sol Wilson was born in Poland in 1893.  His father was a lithographer and it was in his shop that Sol got his first exposure to making art as he observed the workmen create designs for bottle labels and other things.  His first experience at painting was to copy from old books and to duplicate the designs of the workmen.  By the age of fifteen, he sold the contents of his "studio" and sailed to America.  He worked in New York as an apprentice polisher in a jewelry factory, a doll-face painter, a photograph developer and retoucher, and a monitor at the National Academy of Design.  He studied at night at Cooper Union and later at the National Academy and the Ferrer School with Bellows and Robert Henri. 


In the late 20's, Wilson began to spend his summers in Maine and became associated with a group of artists who gathered to work there in summer, becoming known as the Rockport School.  By the mid-forties, however, Wilson was resettled in Provincetown and his art was developing into its own.  In 1947, he is said to have struck his new stride with the painting, The Wreck, which was awarded honorable mention in the 1947 Carnegie Exhibition of American Painting.  His palette lost some of its somberness and became richer and "more jewel-like."  During the 40's and 50's, Wilson won many prizes and medals in national art exhibitions.  Over nearly thirty years of summer seasons, Wilson traveled the lower Cape making quick pen and ink and charcoal sketches from which he worked up his paintings in his studio in New York during the winter.  Wilson explains his method in a 1950 article in American Artist:  "My own method has taken me many years to evolve.  I get my subject matter from life, but my paintings are not done from life.  They are done mainly from memory, with the help of innumerable sketches and studies.  When the theme for a painting is completed in my mind, I feel ready to begin work on a given surface.”   Wilson painted in oil, casein, pastel, and watercolor and drew in charcoal, pen and ink.  He also made silk-screen prints. In referring to his choice of medium, he says,


My own mood determines how I shall work at a particular time.  If I am not

attuned to oil one day, I'll start something in casein.  I draw constantly, both

from the nude and outdoors from nature.  I generally prefer oil to casein

because it is conducive to a more deliberate development, slower to build up;

casein is the more direct method, suited for an impulsive attack.  I think each

medium should be itself and not attempt to simulate another.


Sol Wilson's paintings are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Library of Congress.  He was the recipient of awards at the Corcoran Biennial and Carnegie Institute International Exhibitions in 1947, a grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a purchase prize from the National Academy of Design, and several gold medals from the Audubon Artists, among others.  He was a member of the National Academy of Design.


Wilson's career spanned a period of fifty years during which time he consistently exhibited his work in one-man shows and group exhibitions in major museums, annual exhibitions, and important galleries across the country. He was represented by Babcock Galleries in New York for 37 years.  He showed in Provincetown at Shore Studio Gallery, East End Gallery, and Provincetown Group Gallery.  In the summer of 1974, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum paid tribute to Wilson's career as artist and teacher and service to the institution with a one-person exhibition of his work. 


Sol Wilson died in New York in November 1974, at 81. His estate is exclusively represented by Julie Heller Gallery.





For further details and photographs, Please call Julie Heller Gallery,









©2007 Rena Lindstrom All Rights Reserved