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Before the Camera, 2005
  EXHIBITION ABSTRACT

For decades, Jerome Witkin has been one of America’s leading figurative painters. His work springs from a profound love of drawing, a critical intelligence, and an empathetic sensibility. He carries the grand Western European tradition of history painting forward into our era. His work is dramatic and the narratives he envisions reveal themselves through time. Many of his finest paintings are done in multiple large panels, each section presenting a different chapter of an unfolding story. The scale of these works pushes the viewer back to apprehend the whole, while the surfaces he creates pull the viewer close to the canvas to admire the beauty of the brushstrokes.

While Witkin’s painterly technique has the appearance of spontaneity, the foundation of his practice is drawing. He is a superb draftsman who enjoys drawing both for its own sake and as a means of working through the challenges of building large compositions. Drawing allows Witkin to study various possibilities before he commits brush to canvas.

Witkin, whose career as a teacher at Syracuse University’ School of Art and Design spans four decades, helps his students begin to appreciate the high demands of building a career as an artist. He has known an enviable number of artists central to the development of 20th American painting and he has studied the history of art with great care. In the classroom studios he brings all of this knowledge of drawing, painting and history to bear as he encourages and critiques his students. Alumni remember the lessons they learned in Witkin’s classes.

This exhibition is a celebration of Jerome Witkin’s career as an artist -teacher. In this dual role he has excelled, achieving standards of excellence worth emulating.

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2011 SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY ART GALLERIES TRAVELING EXHIBITION PROGRAM