Works in the Collection
John Wilson was born in 1922 and grew up in Roxbury, MA. He received a full scholarship to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and studied with the German émigré artist Karl Zerbe. Early in his career, Wilson began exploring themes of racial discrimination and class oppression. A deep appreciation for monumental art then brought Wilson to study abroad in Paris and in Mexico. Like fellow artists Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett, Wilson found a wealth of inspiration and influence in the work of the Mexican muralists and printmakers of the day, and in particular in the work of “Big Three” muralist Jose Clemente Orozco. Awarded another travel fellowship, Wilson then traveled to France where he polished his technical skills in the studio of artist Fernand Léger. He then returned to Mexico where he lived and created art for 5 years.
In 1956, Wilson returned to the United States to raise his family and participate in the growing Civil Rights Movement. He eventually settled down in his native Boston and helped develop the art department at Boston University, serving as a professor until 1986. Today Wilson is remembered for his ability to infuse his amazing technical skill with deeply emotional content, a talent he used to elevate the image of the common man and woman to heroic proportions. His work can be found in the collections of the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, and numerous other public and private collections. John Wilson died in 2015.