William Douglas McGee
About the artist:
Like many of his contemporaries at the height of the Abstract Expressionist movement, William Douglas McGee explored various materials and methods of making that illustrated his personal experiences and responses to the social and political climate of the mid-20th century. In the summer of 1952, McGee was a student at the famed Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina. There, he painted alongside the likes of Robert Rauschenberg and Elaine de Kooning, who would become major figures in the second generation of Abstract Expressionists. McGee was profoundly influenced by his teacher and mentor Franz Kline, from whom he learned to navigate personal philosophical approaches to art making.
Almost exclusively a painter throughout his career, McGee had an on-and-off again relationship with collage, first in the 1950s, again in the 1960s, and finally in the late 1970s and early 1980s. According to an interview with McGee in 1970, the artist’s principles and philosophy towards painting were easily transferable to the methods he used for his collage work. McGee was always interested in the balance of different components in his art: heavy and light, masculine and feminine, harsh and soft. By controlling these aspects, consciously and unconsciously, he brought them together and created what he considered his best result. For McGee, the importance of each material factored into the end result of the artwork.
McGee’s collages differed from those of his contemporaries because he largely refrained from the use of pop culture references. He most commonly used pieces of letters, notebooks, mat board, and other substrates. Only a few examples include type-written material, such as newspapers or magazine articles, so that the text did not infer specific meaning to the work. The results were aesthetic responses to his landscape, environment, people, and places.
Courtesy of University of Miami
Like many of his contemporaries at the height of the Abstract Expressionist movement, William Douglas McGee explored various materials and methods of making that illustrated his personal experiences and responses to the social and political climate