Julius Woeltz at David Dike Fine Art Auction

Julius Woeltz San Antonio Mural

More than 250 works will be auctioned on Saturday, Jan 25, 2014 through David Dike Fine Art. As always, it is an event in which a phenomenal Texas art sale of the year attracts one of the biggest crowd of Texas Art collectors, sometimes from as far as Bayou city and San Antonio.

David Dike TACO PreviewOn Saturday, a special preview was given to Texas Art Collectors Organization (TACO) members. The most discussed pieces are by San Antonio artist Julius Woeltz.

Born in San Antonio, Woeltz had his training in Paris (Academie Julian) and Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago). Later, he traveled to Mexico and took various jobs in New Orleans, Amarillo and Austin. In the auction, a few drawings reflect his rigorous training in Europe with an emphasis on human anatomy. A mixed media drawing depicting the construction of Smith Young Towers in downtown San Antonio was dated in 1930 when he was only 19 years ago. Reducing the scene into a dual play between a sanguine-toned shade against grayish white, he championed the architectural details of a bustling downtown.

In particular, he abruptly broke away from realism by rendering a voluptuous yet naturalistic light backdrop against a soaring tower with patterned lattice. The inclusion of a triangular shade from a building out of sight at the bottom also hints his propensity toward modernism.

Julius Woeltz San Antonio Mural

The largest work, a twelve-foot long homage to his hometown, was completed one year before he died. He systematically divided the canvas into six vertical strips. In each panel, the inclusion of multi-leveled street scenes provides a subdivision visual effect through the usage of curbs, railings and rooflines. Although the style indicates a strong influence of Mexican mulralism, the jewel colors speaks indisputably of the mid-century.

The narrative tone disappears in another piece “Peregrination”. His abstraction seems to have its firm root in the natural and urban world in which he lived. The way forms were divided into geometric pieces of lively colors reminds me of Mexican artist Carlos Merida. Unlike Merida whose restrained rhythmic patterns echo dance and music, Peregrination is excessive in its ambition and intensive in its search of structural grander through minutia of articulation. Although it is undated, the work was probably completed in his late career.

Late is relative. Woeltz’ life journey took him afar from Europe to Mexico, from Chicago to New Orleans; but it ended early. He died in 1956, at the age of 45. The virtuosity and variety from a dozen pieces offered from David Dike Auction only makes us ponder what Texas art could be if he had lived another three decades.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage.

When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city.

With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s.

The result will be a book with a video component.

We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

3 comments

I had written to this fine Auction house to get information on when they were going to have this auction, and sadly, was never contacted. My Uncle’s Art is very well received by people and I hope that this piece went to a good home. The latest I had heard, was that it wasn’t sold and it was placed at the hospital where My Aunt’s husband had worked for many years. I have not contacted Scot White Hospital in Kerrville, TX to verify. I would loved to have known which paintings were Auctioned off, however.

Dear Annie-Dear,
My mother and your uncle were friends in Alpine, Tx. Please email me so we can exchange some history. Thank you so much. Sara

Dear Annie-Dear,
My mother and your uncle were friends in Alpine, Tx. Please email me so we can exchange some history. Thank you so much. Sara

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