Bio and artist's statement
Will Rothfuss is an artist who specializes in a variety of mediums and techniques. His large body of work includes geometric abstraction with fabric, collage and mixed-media, assemblage and installations, and hyper-realism painting in watercolor or oil. His endeavors combine rigorous modernist structures with post-modern devices such as appropriation, chance, and seriality.
Born in New Jersey in 1950, Will studied realism at The Art Student’s League of NYC with Robert Beverly Hale and Frank Mason and is a graduate of Cornell University, where he began making abstract art. This culminated in a show of his early paint chip geometric abstraction at the Greenville Museum of Art in 1979.
Shortly after this, he made a decision to stop exhibiting while he supported his young family, first as a custom cabinetmaker in NYC, and after that, as a scenic designer in theatre and television. He has recently returned to full time art making as well as exhibiting. He lives and works near Delaware Water Gap, PA.
Statement on abstract work:
My abstract work, which I have been making over the last 40 plus years, ranges from small collages to large paintings. Collage, which I use as studies for the large pieces and also as stand alone work, is a uniquely 20th century medium, perfectly suited to a culture where we are literally bombarded with images. It appropriates and recycles these images. Most of my collages incorporate material that has a pre-existing aesthetic purpose- grids of paint samples (paint chips) from paint manufacturers, old master reproductions, ads and pages from art magazines, gallery brochures, and museum handouts. The early work, both the collages and the large paintings, used a rigid structure to “repurpose” other artists’ work and made liberal use of appropriation, irony, chance and other surrealistic devices laid on a formal grid.
The new work largely sheds these devices in favor of a more purely formal approach- assembling a composition from blocks of color and texture that emphasizes the flat plane that the structure lays on. I like to say “building an edifice from blocks of color”. A scaling up from paper led to the use of fabric- specifically men’s shirts- with work that was begun while living in Miami. So technically these are still collage, despite their size. They are more about the pure pleasure of looking at color relationships than about making any specific “post modern” statement.
What ties all my work together is the emphasis on form and structure over content and chaos, the primacy of geometry, and my restless search for new methods of expression.