Paul John Wonner Biography

Paul John Wonner




Paul John Wonner, painter and printmaker, was born on April 24, 1920, in Tucson, Arizona. He was enrolled in the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland in 1941 but was soon drafted into the military. Upon his discharge, he moved from Texas to New York City where he attended the Art Students’ League in 1947. Between the years 1952 and 1955, he studied at the University of California at Berkeley receiving his B.A. in 1952, his M.A. in 1953, and his M.L.S. in 1955. Wonner met his partner, Theophilus Brown, in graduate school.

Early in his career, Wonner assimilated the tenets of abstraction and figuration to create his own style and is known as one of the "Bridge Generation" artists of the Bay Area Figurative Movement. His work was included in the 1957 exhibition at the Oakland Museum, Contemporary Bay Area Figurative Painting.

He moved to Southern California in the late 1960s where he taught at the University of California Santa Barbara and the Otis Art Institute. By the end of decade, Wonner’s style had turned from abstraction to a high realism. In 1976 he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Wonner was represented by the John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco. He participated in numerous group exhibitions and solo exhibitions of his work were mounted at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, McNay Museum, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum.

Collections holding his work include the Art Institute of Chicago, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Crocker Art Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum of California, Philbrook Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Anderson Collection at Stanford University.

John Paul Wonner died April 23, 2008, in San Francisco.