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Estimate: $ 35,000 - $ 50,000
WALTER H. WILLIAMS (1920 - 1998) Untitled (Boy in a Field).
Oil and sand on masonite board, circa 1956-59. 635x813 mm; 25x32 inches. Signed in oil, lower right.
Provenance: Terry Dintenfass Gallery, New York; private collection, New York (circa 1959).
This significant painting is a wonderful, early example of Walter Williams' practice. Here Williams demonstrates his command of the medium. The painting is characterized with a richly scumbled surface of paint mixed with sand. Williams then adds what would become his signature organic build up of small brushstrokes, dots, drips and daubs of paint. Williams tells a simple narrative of a pensive young boy seated in a field picking wildflowers. The motif of the boy's striped T-shirt would reappear in countless paintings. Here the dense, dark tones of the field and the young boy are contrasted against the rosey pinks of the hazy sky.
Born in Brooklyn, the painter, printmaker and sculptor Walter Williams studied art at the Brooklyn Museum Art School under Ben Shahn, Reuben Tam and Gregorio Prestopino from 1951-55. His Social Realist New York City street scenes were exhibited as early as 1952 at Roko Gallery, and included in 1953 in the Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum. But after receiving a John Hay Whitney Foundation fellowship in 1955, which he used to travel to Denmark in 1956, Williams left behind the stark subjects of the city for a warmer, poetic countryside. He found a new level of expression in a series of imaginary Southern landscapes and inspiration living abroad. It became a subject the artist would revisit again and again for the next twenty years.