John Winkler ( Austrian > American, 1890–1979 ) was born in Vienna to a military family. At age 16 he emigrated to America, with a forged passport, in search of adventure. After a period of exploration, he studied at the California Institute of Arts and began publishing his etchings in 1915. He would become revered as a leading American etcher, known especially for his views of the San Francisco Bay area, but also London and Paris.
Winkler worked directly on copper plates from his subject matter, without preparatory drawings or photo reference. His draftsmanship and composition were brilliant. The absence of stylistic affectations makes his images look surprisingly fresh and contemporary in our own time.
John Winkler printed his own plates in small editions, usually 35 to 75 impressions. The etchings are signed in pencil but not numbered. Most of his plates were printed in multiple states, meaning he continued to etch and develop the plate surface, while printing impressions along the way.
Large collections of Winkler’s etchings are held in California’s Oakland Museum and San Diego Museum of Art. Other collections include: Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Boston Public Library, Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum.
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