Ulfert Wilke (1907–1987) was an internationally recognized painter, calligrapher and art collector connected to the abstract expressionism movement. He is best known for his large canvas paintings and highly detailed lithographs that were inspired by calligraphic writing. Wilke drew inspiration from written language, and much of his work was derived from his abstract interpretation of the shapes, colors and meanings of writing that he found in all languages and forms, including the poetry and ancient engravings of Asia and the Middle East. He was an avid art collector, particularly of tribal art, and was the founding director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art.
Wilke studied art at Harvard on a Carnegie scholarship. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Wilke was an art teacher and director at several universities and museums. He received the Guggenheim Fellowship twice (in 1959 and 1960), which he used to travel to work and study first in Munich and Rome, and later Kyoto, Japan where he lived in monastery and studied Japanese Zen calligraphy under the monks.
Wilke returned to the US in the 1960s. He lived in New York at this time and worked as a professor at Rutgers University. This period defined Wilke as an artist, and it was during this time that he became connected to the great New York school of artists of the 1950s and 1960s. He maintained close relationships with many famed artist colleagues including Ad Reinhardt, Julius Bissier, George Rickey, Mark Rothko, Lyonel Feininger, Max Beckmann, Mark Tobey, Kenzo Okada, Robert Motherwell and David Smith.
Wilke had many solo exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally, and was awarded many honors, including an exhibition and award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. His work is held in museums and collections around the world.
Acrylic on canvas
Rudolf Wilke (1873—1908) was a celebrated German caricaturist and illustrator. He studied fine art in Munich and Paris, and later set up a studio with Bruno Paul, a fellow illustrator. He became a major contributor to the Munich periodical Jugend before being invited to contribute to Simplicissimus in 1899 by Albert Langen. Simplicissimus was a biting political satire magazine. He became a major contributor and eventually a stockholder.
The publication became immensely popular in stratified turn-of-the-century Germany, so much so that Leo Tolstoi discribed it as "the most valuable source for the historian of the 22nd or 23rd century who describes the 19th century...enabling him to test the credibility of all other sources."
Nick Wilke has always enjoyed making things, and he has built all manner of them over the years. For the past few decades, his medium of choice has been stainless steel. He chooses to work primarily with stainless because of its modern aesthetic and its ability to withstand the wear and tear of tropical climate.
His architectural sculptures, including handrails, gates, countertops, railings and more, are part of some of Hawaii's finest luxury homes. Nick designs and handcrafts each piece in his workshop on Kauai.
Stainless steel. Kauai, Hawaii.