Warrington W. Colescott (1921-2018)
The internationally acclaimed artist, Warrington Colescott, quietly passed away in the comfort of his home east of Hollandale, Wisconsin on the evening of Monday, September 10, 2018.
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Warrington earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California-Berkeley and served as a Lieutenant of Artillery at the end of World War II in Okinawa. Following occupation duty in Korea he returned to his alma mater where he completed a Master of Fine Arts degree on the GI Bill.
Painting was his initial medium. But cartooning had always been an important sideline and his figural style for satirical cartoons in the Daily Californian and the California Pelican clearly anticipate that of his mature work as a printmaker.
After two years as an instructor at Long Beach City College, Warrington came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a one-year appointment and stayed for the rest of his long teaching career. Serigraphy, that is, silk-screen prints, began to replace his paintings by the mid-1950s although water-colors were to remain essential as preliminary studies for his prints.
Study in Europe, primarily in Paris, helped advance his development, but a Fulbright Scholarship to study etching at the Slade School of Fine Art, University of London in 1956 turned the tide toward his ongoing success as a printmaker. By the time he introduced a beginning etching course at the UW in 1960 he was adding various intaglio techniques to his screen printing such as drypoint, aquatint, and engraving. He also started to partition some of his plates into cutout shapes intimately related to the compositions as a whole.
A Guggenheim fellowship took him back to London 1964 where he shared a studio with Frances Myers, his student assistant and future third wife. Following an additional year in Rome where he taught printmaking for the Tyler School of Art study abroad program he returned to Madison to an enriched program of graphic art encouraged by the art department chair, Harvey Littleton, a famous glass artist.
During the anti-Vietnam War turmoil of the late Sixties and early Seventies, a period of tragic assassinations, the murder of four Kent State University students by the Ohio National Guard, and the Sterling Hall bombing on the UW campus, Warrington's prints became bitingly satirical, politically and socially. They were to remain so throughout the remainder of his career.
Not always in attack mode however, his love of comedy was to prevail. This delightful side of Warrington's personality is exemplified in such series as The History of Printmaking, My German Trip, and Suite Louisiana, an amusing history of New Orleans, the birthplace of his Creole parents.
Art runs deep in Warrington's genes. His brother, Robert Colescott, was also a very well-known satirical artist, and his son Louis Colescott studied art and was very successful as a graphic designer. Louis also had a small farm with horses; riding was a love Louis learned as a child while riding the half-wild horses Warrington kept. Those horses, and some of the adventures that came from them, appear in some of Warrington's prints, exemplifying the influence of his home life and his art. Louis, his eldest, died last year after a 10-year battle with lung cancer. Louis and daughter-in-law Nell had two children, Mason and Julian.
Daughter Lydia Scott is also very creative, expressing her art through movement and dance, talents no doubt inspired by both Warrington and Ellen Moore; Warrington's second wife, a modern dancer and the three children's mother. Lydia now is a hospice nurse and lives at the farm. She lived with Warrington and provided loving support for him in his final years. Lydia's three children, Sarah, Adam, and Jonathan all live in southern Wisconsin and graced Warrington with frequent visits to the farm to tackle stubborn tree trimming projects and tangle with barbed wire fence repair.
Son Julian Colescott broke the artistic family mold by pursuing science. He is now a wildlife biologist based out of Missoula, Montana. But this interest too comes largely from the exposure to nature Warrington provided by moving to the farm and keeping it wild. Julian spent time as the "Land Steward" and carried out many of the conservation projects Warrington and he came up with on the 165-acre parcel. Dinner-time discussion often focused on what birds or animal burrows they had seen on the wooded bluff. Julian and daughter-in-law Kristin have two sons, Miles and Finneas.
Frances Myers Colescott, Warrington's third wife, studio mate, and equally eminent printmaker, died suddenly in December 2014. She and Warrington loved to dine at up-scale restaurants and have elaborate dinner parties at the farm. Together they had a condo in New Orleans and spent a lot of time there soaking in the culture, dining with friends, and participating in the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations. Warrington and Frances loved their Hollandale home and are thankful to have been a part of that community.
A memorial service is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on October, 8th, at Cress Funeral Home, 6021 University Avenue, Madison. Visitation will be from 9 a.m. until the time of service.
Heartfelt thanks to family, friends, Hollandale community, Cress Funeral Services, and Agrace HospiceCare for love and support through the past 3 years.
"I have always had Warrington in the highest regard. I was in a number of his classes in the early 50's. We have one print of his and his wife Fancis. We did visit with him ao his farm. He has been a great iinfluance on me and my past art career.
Russ Koester , Rockford Il"
"I remember Warrington from the many years he was a colleague of my father, Fred Logan. I always enjoyed the sense of humor displayed in so many of his works, and was pleased to see him in Grand Rapids (where I have lived since 1977) on the occasion of an exhibit of his work at the local art museum in 2011-12. He lived a productive and long life.
"Warrington was one of the finest men in that pantheon of greats inhabiting the UW-Madison art department in the mid-twentieth century. Everything about that boy was marvelous: his art, his teaching, his sunny disposition, his great mentoring, his welcoming conviviality. He was a giant that walked among us. Okay, a short giant, but one that will be sorely missed by so very many of us."