Paul Wonner – Bay Area Figurative Artist

In the 1950s and 60s, Paul Wonner (1920-2008), a participant in the Bay Area Figurative movement, produced colorful, ethereal paintings. After completing military service in Texas and working in New York, he found his home in California as he earned his master’s degree at UC Berkeley. It is here that he gained recognition for his abstract figural paintings with loose brushstrokes of bold color, like Drawing in the Studio(1964). He spent about twenty years in Southern California teaching at the Otis Art Institute and UC Santa Barbara until he settled permanently in the Bay Area in 1976. Wonner found his niche within the Figurative movement in the late 60s when he began drawing and painting with a distinctly realist style characterized by sharper lines and dark shadows. In the 1970s, the artist turned his focus to carefully arranged still life compositions in which objects from contemporary life are meticulously rendered in a manner evocative of the still life tradition of the Dutch Baroque. Wonner’s mastery of color and composition is apparent in the expressive, narrative intensity of his figurative work as well as his highly detailed still life paintings.

– Paul DesMarais, Contributing Writer 

Literature: Baker, Kenneth. “What set Bay Area painters apart in ‘60s.” San Francisco Chronicle. 23 Jan. 2009. Web. 29 July 2011.

Baker, Kenneth. “Bay Area Painter Paul Wonner Dies.” San Francisco Chronicle. 25 Apr. 2008. Web. 29 July 2011.

Hopkins, Henry. 50 West Coast Artists. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1981. Print.

View all three Paul Wonner works online here. 

Lot Information

Lot 53
Paul Wonner
Drawing in the Studio
Oil on canvas
Signed lower right
Felix Landau Gallery label verso
Canvas: 24″ x 30″; Frame: 24.75″ x 31″
Estimate $15,000 – 20,000

Lot 54
Paul Wonner
Untitled (Nude)
c. 1961
Watercolor on paper
Signed lower left
Sheet: 18″ x 11.75″; Frame: 25″ x 18.5″
Estimate $8,000 – 12,000

Lot 55
Paul Wonner
Untitled (Nude)
c. 1961
Watercolor on paper
Signed lower right
Sheet: 11.75″ x 17.75″; Frame: 18.5″ x 24.75″
Estimate $8,000 – 12,000


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