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Martha Richardson Fine Art to Present a Retrospective of Works by John Wilson at “AD20/21: Art & Design of the 20th & 21st Centuries” March 15-18, 2012

  • BOSTON, Massachusetts
  • /
  • February 21, 2012

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John Wilson (American, born 1922), Black Despair (Black Soldier). Signed and dated 1945, l.r. Oil on masonite, 24” x 30”
Image Courtesy of Martha Richardson Fine Art


Boston, Massachusetts - Martha Richardson Fine Art of Boston will present a retrospective of works by African American Boston artist John Wilson (b. 1922) at the fifth annual AD20/21: Art & Design of the 20th & 21st Centuries, March 15-18, 2012 at The Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street in Boston's South End.  Martha Richardson, already known for her previous exhibition of John Wilson's prints and drawings now represents the artist in New England.  Wilson, a skilled painter, sculptor and printmaker, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1922.

"We are proud and honored to have been chosen to represent this nationally-acclaimed local treasure," notes Richardson.

Featuring more than 40 exhibitors from the United States and Europe, AD20/21 combines a spectacular selection of 20th and 21st Century fine art, photography, vintage and contemporary studio furniture, jewelry and decorative arts with the 13th Annual Boston Print Fair, which offers fine prints, drawings and works on paper. The show opens Thursday, March 15, with a Gala Preview from 5:30-8:30pm, with all proceeds benefiting Boston Architectural College (BAC), New England's largest independent, accredited college of spatial design.  Internationally recognized interior designer Vicente Wolf will be the show's special guest and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2012. For information, please call 617-363-0405 or visit

John Wilson (American, born 1922), Roz #15 (Study for Eternal Presence), Signed and dated 1972, black pastel on paper, 36” x 30”
Image Courtesy of Martha Richardson Fine Art

As a young boy, John Wilson's artistic abilities were recognized and nurtured by his teachers at the Roxbury Boys’ Club. After his work was brought to the attention of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Wilson received a full scholarship. Wilson graduated from the Museum School in 1945 with the highest honors, and in 1947 he received the prestigious James William Paige Traveling Fellowship from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He moved to Paris and worked in Fernand Léger’s studio in 1948-49.  Then, in 1950, Wilson received the John Hay Whitney Fellowship, enabling him to move to Mexico City where he studied at the Esmeralda School of Art, the Instituto Politécnico and the Escuela de las Artes del Libro. He was attracted to the Mexican muralists, in particular the work of Orozco, who was creating large-scale public art with powerful political messages. Wilson made prints at the renowned workshop, the Taller de Gráfica Popular, where Mexican artists and other like-minded American artists, such as Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett, were producing prints of socially conscious subjects.    Wilson's artistic development and his achievements are profoundly intertwined with his compassion for the oppressed and his commitment to social progress. Observing and experiencing injustice himself, he devoted his considerable talents to address the painful realities of racial prejudice and social disenfranchisement.

John Wilson (American, born 1922), Street Scene, Signed and dated 47, l.r. Ink on paper, 12 7/8” x 16 5/8”
Image Courtesy of Martha Richardson Fine Art

Wilson returned to the States in 1956, working first in Chicago and then in New York until 1964, when he returned to Boston to accept a position as art professor at the School of Fine and Applied Arts at Boston University. Wilson still lives in Boston.   

Among the many notable works which Martha Richardson Fine Art will display at the show is the compelling 1947 oil on masonite "Black Despair (Black Solider)", which shows an African American solider with his head down on a table with his arms gripped over his head.  The sitter for the painting was Wilson's brother Billy.  From the same period, Richardson will offer the artist's 1947 Street Scene, an ink on paper drawing of a crowded urban street.  Also being offered at the show is Roz #15 (Study for Eternal Presence), a 1972 black pastel drawing on paper, a study for Wilson's seven-foot tall bronze sculpture that stands outside of the National Center for Afro-American Artists in Boston.   

On Saturday, March 17 at 4:15pm, Martha Richardson will present an informal talk on the artist in her exhibition booth at the show. This talk will be followed by a presentation by James Stroud of Center Street Studio who will be showing John Wilson's more recent prints at the show.  Martha Richardson Fine Art is located at 38 Newbury Street.  For further information, call 617-266-3321 or visit

The AD20/21 weekend show and sale takes place Friday, March 16 from 1-8pm, Saturday, March 17 from 11am-8pm, and Sunday March 18 from 11am-5pm.  Weekend admission is $15, under 12 free and includes admission to all special programs, lectures and panel discussions at the fair.  Valet and discount parking available. The show café is catered by Jules Catering.  Details at


Editor’s Note: • Complete John Wilson bio and additional photos on request.

• Interviews are available with Martha Richardson.

• Media coverage of the Gala and show is encouraged.


Fusco & Four/Ventures, LLC
8 Allenwood Street
Boston, Massachusetts
About Fusco & Four/Ventures, LLC

Founded in 1979 by principals Tony Fusco and Robert Four, Fusco & Four is a full-service Marketing and Public Relations agency, specializing in the arts, lifestyle, leisure and luxury clients. The agency has worked with more than 300 arts-related clients over the past 30 years, including museums, classical music groups, galleries, auction houses, show promoters, internationally-known brands and Internet-based companies in the arts and antiques field. Fusco & Four also produces three annual art and design shows in Boston: the Boston International Fine Art Show, AD 20/21: Art & Design of the 20th & 21st Centuries, and The Ellis Boston Antiques Show. Please direct inquiries to Tony Fusco.

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