FREDERICK WIGHT (1902-1986) was born on June 1, 1902, in New York, New York, the only child of Carol Wight and Alice Stallknect. The Wight Family moved throughout New York state and Vermont before settling in Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1910. Wight entered high school in 1910, graduating at the age of fifteen.
In 1917 he entered University of Virginia, completing his studies in 1923. After graduation he traveled to Paris to seriously pursue his artistic studies (his uncle, Dr. Sherman Wight, financed his endeavors). From 1923-1925 he studied at the Academie Julian.
Wight returned to Cape Cod in 1925, where he painted portraits during most of the year and visited Virginia and Georgia during the winter in search of warmer climates. Occasionally he received portrait commissions furnished by Mrs. Cornelius Sullivan. Other subjects included Eskine Caldwell, James Branch Campbell, and Edward Seidel Canby. Later he completed portraits for Jacques Lipchitz and Lyonel Feininger, as well as local Cape Cod captains. Wight published his first novel, "South" in 1935, to encouraging critical attention.
In 1936, Wight married Joan Elizabeth Bingham. The following two years were spent traveling in Joan's home country of England, and to the South of France, which made a strong impression on Wight, inspiring a series of colorful landscape paintings. During his travels, Wight passed through a brief experimental period, which he termed "Semi-Surrealist." They moved to Chatham, Massachusetts in 1938.
The couple's only child, George Frederick Wight, was born in Hyannis, Massachusetts, in 1942. Amidst the onset of WWII, Wight joined the Navy and went overseas. He was initially hired as an illustrator but later became editor of the amphibious forces' newspaper due to his writing skills. He made drawings of Normandy beaches in preparation for the 1944 invasion landings, which he later participated in. Later, he worked for the Naval Division of Office of Strategic Services in London as an interrogator. After the capture of Paris, Wight was sent to the Continent to interview major Resistance leaders and to write an official American government report on the French resistance.
Wight was demobilized from the Navy in 1945 with the rank of lieutenant commander. He rejoined his family in Chatham and enrolled in Paul Sach's museum training program at Harvard's Fogg Art Museum, graduating with a Master's degree in 1946. He wrote the principal essay for class of 1946 exhibition, "Between the Empires: Gericault, Delacroix, and Chasseriau," at the Fogg Art Museum. During this period, he work alongside noted art historians, including Agnes Mongan, John Rewald, and Jakob Rosenberg. After graduation, he was hired at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art as director of education. Later he was appointed to the position of associate director of the Institute. During his six years there, he mounted several major solo exhibitions of work by Louis Sullivan, Jose Clemente Orozco, Le Corbusier, and Walter Groupius.
In 1953, Wight accepted a position as the director of the new art gallery at the University of California, Los Angeles concurrently with a teaching position in the art department. Wight went on to serve as the department chairman. Exhibitions mounted during his tenire included "Bonne Fete, Monsieur Picasso," "The Negro in American Art," and "New British Painting and Sculpture." Wight also established the Art Council, a private support group of interested community members whose goal was to provide additional funding for the Art Gallery's programs. He directed the program for two decades. Other accomplishments from this period included the development of the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden at UCLA, as well as an artist’s residency at the American Academy at Rome in 1964.
In 1973, Wight retired from his position at UCLA. Upon his retirement, the University Art Gallery was renamed the Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery. His retirement allowed him to subsequently focus solely on his painting and artistic production, which he practiced with fervor until his death on July 26, 1986.
Louis Stern Fine Arts is the exclusive representative of the Estate of Frederick Wight.