The Saint Louis University Museum of Art presents the first retrospective of the work of one of St. Louis' great artists who we now sadly miss. Born in Texas in 1943 (d. June 2, 2007), artist Jerry O. Wilkerson was known for his contemporary pointillist style of painting. After completing his BS at Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas) in 1966, Wilkerson obtained an Master of Fine Arts degree from Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri). Wilkerson settled in St. Louis following military service in the U.S. army, 1968-1970, and lived and worked in St. Louis until his death in 2007.
Wilkerson's work reflected the Pop Art movement of his era and moved well past it as he cast an ironic eye upon society. His art questioned the relationship of our consumer society to the very things that we consume - food particularly - taken, for good or ill, in proper proportion or in excess, into the body itself, regardless of consequences or reflection. Lobsters, hamburgers, fortune cookies and hotdogs painted in intense dots of color acknowledged as well as questioned our society's loving and constant embrace of indulgence. He not only painted on canvas, he also created sculpture using the same imagery as his paintings and prints. His quilts gave a new definition to comfort food as the artist substituted images of pizza slices and hot dogs in traditional quilting patterns.
Wilkerson's art is often ambiguous requiring the viewer to embrace the multiple possibilities of interpretation of his intention. While his technique seems reminiscent of late 19th century French neo-impression, his pointillism was much more influenced by the technology of the print industry where the size and intensity of dots of color increased or lessened the intensity of an image. Sophisticated use of perspective and color render the subjects of his work a complexity that belies seemingly mundane purpose.
Wilkerson's art is represented in public collections including the St. Louis Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Delaware Art Museum and Tucson Museum of Art. His work was exhibited by galleries in St. Louis, Kansas City, New Orleans, Carmel and New York. He was first represented by and had his first exhibition at Lamagna Gallery in New York. When Carlo M. Lamagna accepted a position as a director at OK Harris Gallery of New York, Wilkerson followed. Then Ivan Karp, who was instrumental in launching the careers of pop artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg and Tom Wesselmann, represented Wilkerson throughout his career.
Jerry O. Wilkerson died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 63.