About the Artist
Early Life and Education
Neil Welliver was born in 1929 in the small town of Millville, Pennsylvania, where he graduated at the bottom of his high school class of 21. Welliver received his BA from the Philadelphia College of Art and went on to study with Josef Albers at Yale, where he received his M.F.A. Although Albers and other abstract artists had a profound influence on his work, and many of his early works were abstract color field paintings, Welliver finally found his muse in the Maine woods.
Career and Family Life
Welliver taught at Cooper Union in 1953 and at Yale from 1955 to 1965. In 1966 he became Chairman of the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, until his retirement from teaching in 1989. He remained Professor Emeritus, until his death, in 2005. In 1962, at the urging of artists Alex Katz and Lois Dodd, Welliver bought a 106-acre farm in Lincolnville, Maine. He painted nudes in wooded landscapes and, eventually, just the landscapes. Welliver’s life was filled with tragedy, but he continued to roam the woods, even in winter, and took some solace from painting every day.
In 1975 his studio barn burned down, and much of his work along with it. The following year his only daughter died of sudden infant death syndrome and his wife died six months later. Two of his five sons died, one murdered in Thailand shortly before he was to return home. Welliver’s fourth wife, Mimi, was his companion and caretaker during the last part of his life. Welliver died of pneumonia in Maine in 2005. He was survived by three sons, Ethan, John and and Titus Welliver, an actor who most recently played the role of Harry Bosch in the TV series Bosch. Welliver’s paintings can be found at the Met, MoMA, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Whitney and other venues throughout the U.S.