Brown Swimming Pool


Opening Lecture: Curator Scott A. Shields, PhD, on Breaking the Rules

January 28, 2024

2:00pm - 3:00pm

Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Wingardner Auditorium
4339 Park Avenue
Memphis, TN 38117

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Scott Shields is the Ted and Melza Barr Chief Curator and Associate Director at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. He joined the Crocker in 2000 and has since curated eighty exhibitions and authored numerous catalogues, most recently on Paul Wonner and Theophilus Brown.

In reaction to the widespread pursuit of Abstract Expressionism in the late 1940s and early 1950s, several avant-garde artists in the San Francisco Bay Area began to reengage with the visible world. Two such artists were Paul Wonner (1920 – 2008) and William “Theophilus” Brown (1919 – 2012), who met and became a couple in 1952. Both began as practitioners of a style that came to be known as Bay Area Figuration, though over time the artists’ works became more overtly representational. Brown became known for his evocative landscapes with classic bathers and his lonely urban scenes. Wonner received acclaim for still lifes laden with everyday objects, animals, and flowers. In this enlightening talk, Shields unpacks the duo’s interest in the figure, their role in the Bay Area Figurative movement, and the work that followed.