One of four new exhibitions scheduled to open in the month of December, Sullivan Goss presents JEAN SWIGGETT: A One Man Renaissance. Featuring a dozen works made between 1939 and 1981, A One Man Renaissance will be the first solo exhibition of Swiggett’s work since his death almost twentyfive years ago. Sullivan Goss will represent the Estate and looks forward to reintroducing one of San Diego’s preeminent artists to new generations of artists and collectors.
Jean Swiggett (19101990) moved to Long Beach from Franklin, Indiana with his family when he was two. He attended Long Beach Community College and Chouinard Art Institute before moving to San Diego State University, where he graduated with an unusual double major in art and mathematics. During the thirties and forties, he painted or assisted on forty murals for the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) and for private companies and individuals. During this prolific period in his career, he worked alongside artists like Paul Sample (18961974), Norman Stiles Chamberlin (18871961), and Ivan Bartlett (19081976).
In 1939, Swiggett earned his M.F.A. from USC. He also participated in the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in San Francisco, a world’s fair celebrating the completion of the Bay Bridge. In addition to his Arrangement with Apples, 1939 – one of the works to be featured in the show – Swiggett displayed another easel painting and created seven murals for the G.G.I.E.
During the war, Swiggett served in the Army. As the war was winding down and with a new daughter on the way, he got a teaching job at San Diego State University, where he taught in the art department for the next 31 years. He attended further classes at Claremont Graduate School with Henry Lee McFee and came to be a respected leader of the San Diego art scene.
Swiggett’s development followed an unusual path. Various experiments with Modernist styles of painting ran parallel with another carefully drawn body of Magical Realist works that includes highly realistic renderings of Pop subjects.
In the late sixties and through the eighties, Swiggett made a pronounced move towards figurative realism with obscure art historical references, mythical symbolism, and magical imagery. His superior drawing skills, evident from the very beginning of his career, developed to full maturity in images of nudity and crinkled paper. He was at the vanguard of a return to representational art that continues today.
JEAN SWIGGETT: A One Man Renaissance will present works from each of these decades. Swiggett’s triumphant return to the figure marked, in some ways, his desire for a new Renaissance – a return to highly crafted paintings in which the human body was a central motif.
3:14 | Frank Goss