Glenn Anthony Wessels Biography

Glenn Anthony Wessels




Glenn Anthony Wessels, painter, muralist, printmaker, and educator, was born in Cape Town, South Africa on December 15, 1895. His father was a wealthy Dutch diamond merchant but after losing everything in the Boer War, the Wessels family immigrated to the United States in 1902. They settled in the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California.

Wessels earned his A.B. degree in psychology from the University of California Berkeley, his B.F.A. degree from the California School of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley (now the California College of the Arts) and his M.A. degree from the University of California Berkeley. Wessels then spent two years in Europe, studying at l’Académie Colarossi in Paris under André Lhote, in Berlin with Karl Hofer, and at the Schule für Bildende Kunst in Munich and St. Tropez with Hans Hofmann. Upon his return to the California, Wessels began teaching at the California College of Arts and Crafts (1924-1928).

In 1929, Wessels was once again studying at the Schule für Bildende Kunst where he served as Hofmann’s assistant and translator in Munich and St. Tropez. He returned to the U.S. with Hofmann and served as his interpreter for a summer session at the University of California, Berkeley.

With the onset of the Great Depression, enrollment dropped and Wessels found employment as the East Bay supervisor and technical advisor of the Federal Art Project in California and he painted five murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). He then was hired as an assistant professor and became an associate professor of art at the State College of Washington in Pullman between 1942 and 1946. He returned to the University of California Berkeley in 1946 as an associate professor of art and was elevated to full professor in 1950. His teaching career included summer sessions at Northwestern University in Evanston, Mills College in Oakland, State College of Washington in Pullman, University of California Berkeley, the University of Southern California Los Angeles, and the State College of Montana. Wessels retired from teaching in 1963 and was invited by Governor Edmund (Pat) Brown to become a California State Commissioner of Fine Arts.

Glenn Wessels served as a trustee for San Francisco Art Institute, the San Francisco Art Association, the Friends of Photography, and the Oakland Museum of California. His work is represented in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon, Eugene; the Sheldon Museum, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; the Oakland Museum of California; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Wessels final years were spent in Placerville, California where he died on 23 July 1982.