|    ARTISTS../artists/index-01.html
 HOME  ../gallery_/home.html
|   EXHIBITIONS   ../exhibitions/current.html
|    NEWS../news-n-links/n-01.html
|    CONTACT../contact/c-1.html

TEL: 415.441.8680

i n f o @ a r t z o n e 4 6 1 . c o m mailto:info@artzone461.com?subject=Website%20Inquiry
461 Valencia at 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103../contact/c-1.html

Polynesian Woman, 1942, painting on canvas, 46” x 36”

ARTIST BIO../beckelheimer/randy-b.html

William Wolff, an artist known for his bold woodcut prints on literary and mythological subjects, was born in 1922.  A San Francisco native, Wolff spent his entire career in the Bay Area, studying at the California School of Fine Arts (later SFAI) before World War II, and at Mills after his return. He received a MA in art in 1951 from the University of California at Berkeley.  He shared a studio with James Weeks in the Marina district from 1949 to 1955 and painted from the figure with Charles Griffin Farr's circle.  He showed paintings at the Lucien Labaudt Gallery in the Fifties and woodcuts at City Lights Books in the early Sixties.

Wolff found his artistic direction making woodcut prints, using the modernist flattening and compression developed in his earlier paintings to explore the religious, philosophical and literary themes gleaned from his extensive reading in several languages. He worked for more than thirty years at the Graphic Arts Workshop, a cooperative print shop in San Francisco.  He taught at the San Francisco School District’s Youth Guidance Center from 1957 to 1983.  Wolff served as president of the California Society of Printmakers from 1988 to 1990. He encouraged younger artists generously, although he was reticent regarding his own distinctive humanistic work. 

Although he studied etching with Gordon Cook and lithography from Richard Graf in the late Sixties, and pastel with Rupert Garcia in the late Eighties, Wolff's best-known works remain his color woodcuts, with their rough-hewn simple shapes and boldly stylized imagery belying their emotional complexity.  It is the emotional complexity, based on Wolff's literary and philosophical sensibility, that separates him from most of the Bay Area figurative painters who are his contemporaries. While their painterly work is fundamentally esthetic, aiming at visual delight, Wolff's work, despite his appropriation of modernist devices (abstraction, simplification, bright flat color, and collage-based composition), has quite a different goal, older, and perhaps impossibly ambitions: the investigation of man's place in the cosmos. Modest enough and bibliophile enough to revere the canons of western drama, mythology and religion, he is also ambitious enough to use them for personal ends.  Although we clearly are viewing an allegorical or metaphoric world, the effects and emotions are felt, and the viewer responds, almost without knowing why. The images strike a chord in us rarely struck these days.

William Wolff was an artist and man of great integrity, wisdom and good humor.  In today's art world, William Wollf is a rarity, an anomaly: a contemporary artist who, like Blake and Rouault before him, found continuing relevance in religion and literature, and forged powerful imagery from his investigations.  Although he was never well known in the San Francisco art world, his woodcuts and other prints stand the test of time.  Due to the efforts of a number of artists who work to keep his work before the public, Wolff's prints have been acquired by several eminent museums including the Achenbach Collection at the Legion of Honor, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the New York Public Library, the Oakland Museum of California and the Library of Congress.

Born:  December 31, 1922, San Francisco, CA





MA, University of California, Berkeley, 1951

BA, University of California, Berkeley, 1950 

Studied at the California School of Fine Arts 1939-1943 



2011    William Wolff: Persons & Portraits, ArtZone 461 Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2009    William Wolff: A Printmaker’s Odyssey, ArtZone 461 Gallery, San Francisco, CA

            William Wolff: Paintings form the Estate, ArtZone 461 Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2007    William Wolff: The Invisible City, Warnock Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA

            William Wolff: Paintings form the 1950s-1960s, Charles Campbell Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2002    Masquerade and Revelation: A William Wolff Retrospective, Heart Art Gallery, 

            St. Mary’s College of California, Moraga, CA, catalogue

1999    Write the Things Which Thou Hast Seen, woodcuts, etchings and paintings by William Wolff 

            Fetterly Gallery, Vallejo, CA, catalogue 

1988    Woodcuts, Warner Roberts Gallery, Palo Alto, CA

1987    Pastel Drawings, F. J. Michaels Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1984    Woodcuts, F. J. Michaels Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1981    Recent Woodcuts, Printmakers Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1976    Actor Print Series, Berkeley Stage Company, Berkeley, CA

1975    Etchings and Woodcuts, Marquoit Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1975    Select Arts, San Francisco, CA

1974    Printmaker’s Gallery, San Francisco, CA

            Vintage 1870 Depot Gallery, Napa Valley

1972    Serigraphs, etchings, Psyche and Symbol Gallery, Berkeley, CA 

            Etchings and Woodcuts, Marquoit Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1969    Etchings, Lithographs, Serigraphs, Print Room, John Bolles Gallery,  San Francisco, CA

            San Francisco Arts Commission woodcut show, San Francisco, CA

1968    Woodcuts, Trutton Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1962-1968 Prints shown at Original Prints Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1962    Woodcuts, City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, CA

1955    Oil Paintings, Lucien Labaudt Gallery



2000            Honored by the Graphics Arts Workshop for his many years of artistic contribution

1976            Purchase Award, Annual San Francisco Arts Festival

1967            Graphics Award, Rochester Festival of Religious Art, Rochester, New York

1951            San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Annual Art Show, Drawing Award

1960            Oil painting on Extended loan to the Oakland Museum



Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

New York Public Library, New York

Library of Congress, print collection, Washington, DC

Hearst Gallery, St. Mary’s College of California, Moraga, CA, collection

Achenbach Collection, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA 

Janet Turner Print Gallery, Chico State University, Chico, CA, collection

The Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA, collection

Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA, collection

Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley, CA, collection

Fetterly Gallery, Vallejo Community Arts Foundation Collection, Vallejo, CA

City and County of San Francisco, collection

Print Club of Albany, Albany, NY, collection


1993-2002   in collaboration with Paper Crane Press, Half Moon Bay, CA

                    5 Artists Folio

                    The Shakespeare Folio, 12 artists

                    Poems - Poetry of James Campbell, 14 woodcuts with letterpress

                    Simon Peter Saith Unto Them, “I go a fishin’,” 5 etchings with letterpress

1962            in collaboration with San Francisco Arts Commission

                    Poets and Printmakers

                    Associations: Graphic Arts Workshop, San Francisco, CA member since 1970

                    California Society of Printmakers, Berkeley, CA (Past President 1988-1989)


1994            Guest Speaker, Academy of Art College, San Francisco, CA

                    Catherine Julie Cunningham Visiting Scholar, Lectured on “James Weeks: An

1992            Artist’s View” College of Notre Dame, Belmont, CA, Spring

1957-1983   Special Ed., San Francisco School District, Youth Guidance Center

1980            Introduction to Woodcut Printmaking, Fort Mason, San Francisco

                    Animation Workshop Artist in Residence with Todd Flinchbaugh 

1971            SF Museum of Art






PRESS RELEASE../exhibitions/1212-partners-p.html



AVAILABLE WORKS../wolff/william-1.html

  < PREVIOUS    |   40   |   41   |   42   |   43   |   44   |   45    |  NEXT >

Contents Copyright © 2003-2013