Jack Wolfe


“Wolfe’s work will be significant to the history of twentieth century American art.” Meyer Shapiro

(In) Wolfe’s portraits…multiple perspectives are employed to achieve an objective ordering of the elements; he captures an essence and not the representative illusion of the sitter. Wolfe succeeds in expressing the affection he feels for his sitters, but it is his penetrating insight into the personality of the sitter which gives the portraits their reality. Frederick P. Walkey, Founding Director, De Cordova Museum, Lincoln MA

For all their outspoken vitality, Wolfe’s paintings are neither fast nor easy….Amidst the ostensible turmoil, details of another sort - namely details which bespeak control and consciousness - also make their presence felt. They consist of internal cross-references of color, brush-stroke, and compositional incident, and, though they never dominate a picture or constitute the first thing seen in it, they are sufficient in number to grant the picture a constant authority. Wolfe challenges himself pretty severely and, in view of the sheer number of different kinds of incidents he permits in a given painting, he takes considerable risks. But when he evidences the right amount of control…the authority of which I speak is sure and convincing. from "Painted in Boston", Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston MA

Jack Wolfe has chosen to separate himself from a venal network that makes a work of art into a commodity….one could argue that Wolfe has paid dearly, sacrificing the audience that is most readily gained through established channels….Wolfe paints for a handful of appreciative people - an audience which shares with him the extraordinary universals, those things he has examined so deeply and worked so hard to pull out of himself. The work speaks for Wolfe. It is elegant, subversive, bawdy, tragic, and has momentous staying power. The exacting discipline, the unshakable commitment to painting, and the stubborn will to pose unanswerable questions have shaped Wolfe’s life. Excerpt from Jack Wolfe-Recent Work, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln MA

The exhibit (Vietnam Painting and Roxbury Portrait at University of Massachusetts, Boston, 2005) is powerful and timely. Jack Wolfe's canvases give us all cause to stop and think, not just about what we were doing in Vietnam but about what we are doing now as well. The toll war takes on civilians is something we tend to look upon only retrospectively. Yet in modern war they are the ones who suffer the majority of casualties. Jack Wolfe's paintings show the human side, the painful side, of the landscape of war. His Roxbury paintings provide a powerful visual chorus to the costs of war at home as well. The paintings provide a sacred, human space for contemplation of war and its consequences. Kevin Bowen, Director: The William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Its Social Consequences, University of Massachusetts, Boston