Frederick Wight

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September 30, 1984
Oil on canvas
30 x 48 inches

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Frederick Wight was born on June 1, 1902, in New York, New York, as the only child of Carol Wight and Alice Stallknect. The Wight family moved throughout New York state and Vermont before settling in Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1910. Frederick Wight entered high school in 1910, graduating at the age of fifteen.

In 1917 he entered University of Virginia, completing his studies in 1923. After graduation he traveled to Paris to seriously pursue his artistic studies (his uncle, Dr. Sherman Wight, financed his endeavors). Studied at the Academie Julian from 1923-1925.

Wight returned to Cape Cod in 1925, where he painted portraits during most of the year and visited Virginia and Georgia during the winter in search of warmer climates. Occasional Commissions furnished by Mrs. Cornelius Sullivan. Other subjects for portraits included: Eskine Caldwell, James Branch Campbell, and Edward Seidel Canby. Later portraits completed for Jacques Lipchitz and Lyonel Feininger, as well as local Cape Cod captains. First novel, "South", published in 1935 to encouraging critical attention.

He married Joan Elizabeth Bingham in 1936. The following two years were spent traveling in Joan's home country of England, and also to the South of France, which made a strong impression on Wight's art, resulting in several colorful landscape paintings. Passed through a brief experimental period, which he called "Semi-Surrealist." In 1938, Wight and Joan moved to Chatham, Massachusetts.

The couple's only child, George Frederick Wight, was born in Hyannis, Massachusetts, in 1942. Following onset of WWII, Frederick Wight joined the Navy and went overseas. He was initially hired as an illustrator but later became editor of the amphibious forces' newspaper based on his writing skills. Made drawing of Normandy beaches in preparation for the 1944 invasion landings, in which he later participated. Returned to London, where he worked for the Naval Division of Office of Strategic Services as an interrogator. After the capture of Paris, Wight was sent to the Continent to interview major Resistance leaders and to write an official American government report on the French resistance.1945-1952

Wight is demobilized from the Navy in 1945 with the rank of lieutenant commander. He rejoined his family in Chatham and enrolled in Paul Sach's museum training program at Harvard's Fogg Art Museum, graduating with a Master's degree in 1946. Wrote principal essay for class' 1946 exhibition, "Between the Empires: Gericault, Delacroix, and Chasseriau," at the Fogg Art Museum. Worked with the following noted art historians: Agnes Mongan, John Rewald, and Jakob Rosenberg. After graduation, he was hired at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art as director of education; later appointed to position of associate director of the Institute. Worked there 6 years, during which he mounted several important shows, including Louis Sullivan, Jose Clemente Orozco, Le Corbusier, and Walter Groupius.

In 1953 he accepted a position as director of the new university Art Gallery at the University of California, Los Angeles, and also accepted a teaching position in the art department. Later served as department chairman. Shows hung during this period included "Bonne Fete, Monsieur Picasso," "The Negro in American Art," and "New British Painting and Sculpture." Established the Art Council, a private support group of interested community members whose goal was to provide additional funding for the Art Gallery's programs. Directed the program for two decades. Other projects included the creation of the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden at UCLA and a residency spent at the American Academy at Rome in 1964.

In 1973, Wight retired from his position at UCLA. Upon his retirement, the University Art Gallery was renamed the Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery. His retirement allowed him to subsequently focus solely on his painting/artistic production. He died on July 26, 1986.