- Marion County
We're very interested in buying artwork by Wood Woolsey. Please contact us for more information.
Wood Woolsey was one of four children, born to an artistically inclined father, Charles Woolsey. Artistic talent was also shared by his two brothers, Carl and Jean Woolsey. The three brothers had little formal art training but joined art associations and clubs, associated with painters and craftsmen, and took some classes to cultivate their artistic skills. Wood notably took some night classes at Herron to develop his artistic skill. The artist’s characteristic style was within the genre of realism, particularly of topographic imagery. Further, his style has been noted as structured, solidly drawn, and pictorially dramatic. He was known to have differed in style than his brother Carl, whose work was more romantic and emotional in mood. However, both brothers seemed to have the artistic goal of trying to find and depict the true American landscape.
Wood graduated high school in Danville, Illinois. Afterward, the brothers followed their parents and younger sister to Indianapolis in the early 1920s. Throughout the mid-1920s Wood worked as a designer at the Patterson Engraving Company and then as commercial artist in the Rhodes-Humphrey’s art studio. They lived there until 1928 at which point the family moved to begin a brief stay in Long Beach, California. During the late 1920s the family left for a period of time to explore the broader landscape of the Southwest. Following the development of brother Carl’s friendship and artistic connection to artist Walter Ufer, the family followed and decided to move to Taos, New Mexico where Wood became a member of the Taos Art Colony.
Of the three brothers, Wood established the biggest connection to the people of Taos. Unlike Carl who rarely painted human figures, Wood was largely inspired by the people of Taos. For example, he featured a single Native American man in a dozen different paintings, whom he eventually became close friends with. The artist also knew how to skillfully make figures enter and progress through a composition. With regard to his work with figures, Wood was also known for his portraits of Pueblo Indians.
Following the zenith of his career in Taos, Wood returned to Indiana in 1934 with Carl because of financial reasons resulting from the Great Depression. The two settled near Martinsville, Indiana in Morgan County and were followed by younger brother and established frame maker Jean the year after. During this time, the Depression affected American art so much so that the art market in New York collapsed following WWII. And with that, the styles of the Woolsey brothers became different than the direction American art was headed in (from American Regionalism to Modernist Abstraction). Due to these financial issues and the changing movement in American art, Wood then moved with his parents to Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania in 1939. After his brothers had separated from the group and moved on to different things, Wood and Carl reconvened by 1950 to share a studio in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
Wood began exhibiting early on in amateur shows at the age of sixteen. He exhibited on and off in Indiana throughout the 1920s and 1930s. His many exhibitions include: the Pettis Gallery; the Wolford Hotel in Danville, IL; spring show at the National Academy of Design in New York; Hoosier Salon; Milwaukee Art Institute (Sept. 1930); the H. Lieber Company; Herron Art Institute; and the Indiana State Museum following his death, featuring 50 paintings by Carl and Wood, plus frames by Jean. In their last years of life before Carl’s death in 1965 and Wood’s death in 1970, the two did continue to paint but did not exhibit any of their work.
IMA Research Library Artist Files; Depauw University Permanent Art Collection; Indianapolis Star Oct. 1998; John Herron Institute Library; Indiana State Library; Indianapolis Star Oct. 25, 1931
We are very interested in artwork by Wood Woolsey. Please contact us if you have paintings you are considering selling.
Can you tell us more about the life or art of Wood Woolsey? Please contact us if you can add to our biography.