Jon Schueler’s Scottish Sea


Scottish Sea,1959
Oil on canvas
62 x 78 inches

Signed and dated lower left; signed and titled verso

Exhibition history:
Whitney Annual, 1959-60,
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (label verso)

“When I speak of nature, I speak of the sky, because the sky has become all of it is most particularly the brooding, storm-ridden sky over the Sound of Sleat in which I find the living image of past dreams, dreams which had emerged from memory and the swirl of paint. Here I can see the drama of nature charged and compressed. Lands form, seas disappear, worlds fragment, colors merge or give birth to burning shapes, mountain snows show emerald green. Or, for a long moment, life stops still when the gales pause and the sky clears after long days of careening sound and horizontal rain or snow.”

– Jon Schueler

Jon Schueler was born September 12, 1916 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From 1934 to 1940, he attended the University of Wisconsin, earning a B.A. in Economics in 1938 and an M.A. in English Literature in 1940. In 1941, he joined the Air Corps of the U.S. Army and in 1944 took medical retirement.

He then moved to California and taught English Literature at the University of San Francisco. In 1945, he and his wife enrolled in a portrait painting class, and shortly after moved to San Francisco. There from 1948 to 1951, he attended the California School of Fine Arts, and was especially influenced by Clyfford Still. He also studied with Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Hassel Smith, and Mark Rothko.

In 1951, he moved to New York City and for the remainder of his life traveled extensively in Italy, Britain, and Scotland, spending several years (1970-1975) in Mallaig, Scotland. He also taught at the Yale University School of Art from 1960 to 1962 and from 1963 to 1967, was visiting artist at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore.

In 1992, Schueler died in New York City, and in 1999, his autobiographical writings, “The Sound of Sleat: A Painter’s Life” was published. The book was described by Phoebe-Lou Adams in “The Atlantic Monthly” as “an amazing, totally peculiar piece of work. It may be the best thing ever written about the workings of a painter’s mind and eye.”

In November 1999, a video about Schueler was completed with Magda Salvesen, the artist’s wife, as Director and Executive Producer. Titled “Jon Schueler: A Life in Painting”, the video explores his childhood in Milwaukee, his World War I experience as a flight navigator in Britain, his years at the California School of Fine Arts where he studied painting, his life as an artist in New York in the 1950s, and his maintaining of studios both in New York and western Scotland in the remote fishing village of Mallaig. In Scotland, his painting was oriented towards nature, especially the dramatic skies and weather.

Mr. Schueler’s work is represented in numerous public collections, including those at the Whitney Museum of American Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Cleveland Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; National Academy Museum, New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM; Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland; and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.