Michener Art Museum

Nelson Shanks: A Brush with Reality

June 8 through September 8, 2013
Putman Smith Gallery


Nelson Shanks (b. 1937), Pigtails, 2004, oil on canvas, H. 19 1/2 x W. 27 3/4 inches, James A. Michener Art Museum. Museum purchase funded by the Janus Society. © 2004 Nelson Shanks.
Nelson Shanks, Ghost Horse, (Catalina Island), 2000, oil on canvas, 34 x 54 inches, Private Collection, (Wrigley Rusack)

Generously Sponsored by
Stephen & Mary Darlington
Barbara M. Donnelly, Donnelly Marketing Services Associates, LLC
Susan & Matthew Dupee
Robert & Kathleen Moore

Nelson Shanks' focus on and dedication to classical painting is rooted in the studied excellence of the European masters. His portrait compositions are narratives that speak to the scope and scale of a personality. His studies of human nature, most often in the form of the female nude, are rich with references – a floral headpiece, delicate compote, gilded frame remnants, a peacock feather, and soft textiles.

Shanks has lived, taught, and painted in Bucks County since the 1960s and is recognized for his eloquent portraits of notable figures in the world of politics, science, the arts, and religion. Yet there is enormous range in his oeuvre which includes still lifes, landscapes, and human tableaux filled with dramatic colors and textures.

Education, observation, and practice are at the root of his success. Shanks, with wife Leona, founded Studio Incamminati in 2002 which marked its 10th anniversary in fall 2012. Dedicated to immersing students in the process and content of painting humanist realism, the studio is recognized for its superb faculty, teaching spaces, and curriculum.

Nelson Shanks is a maestro, orchestrating colors, spaces and elements like a conductor. And just as a conductor teases nuances from his musicians, Shanks infuses his paintings with this same passion and energy. This installation brings together more than 30 major paintings from public and private collections around the country and from the artist's personal collection.