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Jerome Witkin: Moral Visions

September 04 to September 25, 1986

Marsh Art Gallery, University of Richmond Museums


Jerome Witkin's works were first brought to my attention when I stepped off the elevator into a 57th Street gallery with business on my mind. Just then I was caught by lingering hallucinations from morning dreams, or was it actually a large painting on the wall in front of me echoing my own psychic drama? While processing loans and shuffling slides moments later, flashes of Subway: A Marriage before my eyes lured me around the corner and back into the gallery. Witkin's painting had discovered me.

In Subway: A Marriage Witkin has painted reality as a dream. It fits, given that the language of the subconscious mind is a visual language. He knows, too, that between the waking and somnus realities there are only narrow distinctions.

Witkin realizes the ephemeral nature of our existence; even his still lifes, such as Male Corpse-Upstate, render the pulse and movement of the captured moment. Each line builds, sustains or releases tension, conveying the subject in motion.

The interest taken in Witkin's work by other museum and gallery directors suggested to me a collaboration to produce a traveling exhibition. Tony Petracca, Director of the Pyramid Arts Center in Rochester, N.Y., had similar ideas. We felt that our non-profit, educational interests would be a happy marriage for the production of a very special Witkin exhibition. We were interested, too, in the response from viewers in both the university and "alternative space" environments.

We chose the paintings in the exhibition because we felt that they were powerfully current-not only in their execution, bur because of the social themes they portray or suggest. The exhibition is also slightly retrospective including pictures dating from 1972 to 1986, with the intention that the viewer will have a sense of progression as well as the depth of the artist's oeuvre. Many of the drawings in the exhibition are studies done in preparation for paintings. Masterfully drafted, these drawings are the artist's mode of investigation and records of his visual thoughts.

Melissa E. Weinman

Director, Marsh Gallery

Publication Date



University of Richmond Museums


Richmond, VA; Rochester, NY; Rockford, IL; Santa Clara, CA


Jerome Witkin, moral visions, Subway: A Marriage, neo-figurative, neo-expressionist, Male Corpse-Upstate


Art and Design | Fine Arts | Painting

Jerome Witkin: Moral Visions