luce foundation center

Paul Wonner, Model Drinking Coffee, 1964

In Model Drinking Coffee the crisp colors and dramatic contrasts between light and shadow evoke the clear sunshine of a California morning. Paul Wonner used broad brushstrokes and thick paint to animate every object in this interior view, from the seated figure to the vase and coffeepot on the table. Wonner, like other members of the Bay Area figurative school, rejected abstraction in the late 1950s and ‘60s and began painting light-filled landscapes and interiors that often showed solitary figures absorbed in their own worlds. But even though this image is representational, Wonner concentrated on the pattern of shapes and the play of paint across the canvas much as a devoted abstract artist would do.—The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Luce Foundation Center for American Art