Jack Hooper

Jack Hooper


Let's Celebrate Jack Hooper


Jack Hooper, an artist par excellence, was creatively prodigious: painter, muralist, sculptor, and printmaker. Amazingly inventive and complex, he was incessantly creating for over 67 years.


While various themes have been reworked and revisited over the years, his work nevertheless remains fresh and alive. The last 20 years of his life were spent in rural Mexico, where he exuberantly drew and painted every single day until his death, January 24th, 2014. He left behind 3 children with his 1st wife, Nancy and 3 children with his 2nd wife, Rosalie. He was married to Melvinita, for 32 years, until his death in Mexico.


WHO IS JACK HOOPER: Born in 1928, Jack Hooper grew up in Los Angeles, CA. After graduating from high school, Jack joined the Army Air Corps just at the end of WW II. After his military service, he graduated from Los Angeles City College. But as an eager young artist, he sought a first-rate art education, and he was therefore ultimately drawn to the vibrant art scene of Mexico. These were his years of intense artistic and political dynamism, dominated by the three brilliant painters and muralists: Diego Rivera, Jose Clement Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros.


In Mexico City, Hooper enrolled at the College of the Americas and became a mural assistant to Siqueiros. He remained there for two years, studying and absorbing the art scene. He recalled, "I became close to Siqueiros, the leader of the Communist Party of Mexico and was subject to frequent arrests by the authorities." Hooper knew many of the artists of the period, including Frida Kahlo who would become the subject of many of his portraits and studies over the coming decades.


During this same period, California artists were beginning to challenge the hegemony of abstract expressionism in American art and reintroduce the figure in their presentation. This was a risky move in that the ideology surrounding abstract art in general, and abstract expressionism in particular, consigned figure painting to conservative or even reactionary trends or mere illustration. Yet many of the artists associated with this new movement had been prominent abstract painters themselves; they highly valued the gains and artistic achievements of abstract expressionism.


In Europe from 1952 - 1955, Hooper attended the Academie Julian, an important art school in Paris viewed as an "alternative" to the official Ecole des Beaux Arts. Henri Matisse was one of many great artists associated with the school and Hooper considers Matisse to have been an important influence in his development. Another alumnus of the Academie was the cubist sculptor, Jacques Lipchitz. Hooper's heads often have a sculptural quality that is reminiscent of Lipchitz work. Both Hooper and Lipchitz deconstruct the form but never dissolve the image into abstraction.


Hooper returned to the US in 1956, where he found a natural affinity with the Bay Area Figurative movement. The gestural spontaneity and the emotional vibrancy expressed through bold brush strokes, brilliant color and the incorporation of chance elements dances between abstraction and representation of the subject.


Then from 1956-58 he was an Associate in Art at UCLA and was a studio assistant to the painter Rico Lebrun. This was a period of intense creativity and recognition. He had many shows in a variety of museums and galleries and continued to receive awards.


In 1960 Jack was invited to become a Visiting Professor of Art at the University of Colorado in Boulder. In that year alone, he participated in, among others, Invitational Shows at SF Museum of Modern Art, the Seattle Museum of Art, the Long Beach Museum of Art, and UCLA Art Galleries. Only 32 years old, his work was already documented in the Historical Archives of Contemporary Art of the Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil.


After his year in Colorado, he returned to Los Angeles and was appointed Assistant Professor of Art at UCLA and again participated in important shows throughout the US. The following year, he became Assistant Professor Art at Mount Saint Mary's College in Los Angeles and later became the Chairman of the Art Department and the Director of Galleries there. Some of the notable shows he participated in during those years were: Primus Stuart Gallery, Los Angeles; Everhart Museum; Scranton, Pennsylvania; La Jolla Art Center, La Jolla, California.


In 1962, Hooper was featured in the exhibit: Fifty California Artists at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. SF MOMA, at that time, purchased one of his portraits of Frida Kahlo. His work as a sculptor was also recognized. He was featured in a special Issue of Art Forum on Sculpture in California for his Plastic Relief paintings. He also revisited his work as a muralist; between 1967 and 1969 he executed 14 murals in Los Angeles. During this time he co-founded Arts Control with the architect Frank Gehry to facilitate collaboration between artists and architects. For the next 25 years, Hooper participated in dozens of solo and group shows in galleries and museums throughout the US and Mexico.

(For a complete list of his credits, please see Career Summary)


In the 1980s Hooper painted a series of portraits of artists - these portraits honor his artistic progenitors and give us a glimpse of his profound knowledge of the history of painting and its aesthetic and emotional concerns. His work lives in a tradition of art as an expression of affects, subjectivity, and emotional truth.


The end of the 80s decade marked an abrupt change in Hooper's life when he left the realm of galleries, dealers, museums and the trappings of the official art world. He married Melvinita in 1982. He and his wife - Melvinita Hooper, a painter in her own right - returned to Mexico in 1990 where they lived at the foot of a volcano at the edge of a lake. In the words of Jan Lavender, an eminent gallery owner of Puerto Vallarta, "Jack and Melvinita live as real, old - fashioned artists...by themselves, dedicated to their art and unconcerned with the market and the prices and the trivia of the fashionable art world." A vibrant artist until his mid-eighties, Hooper's paintings became increasingly personal & emotionally resonant.


Jack Hooper's paintings were never overtly political or didactic - despite the prevailing ethos of "art for the masses" - and by the time a new generation of Mexican painters had emerged with whom he had more in common, he had left already to study in Europe. This new movement in Mexican art called the "Ruptura" challenged the older political generation and asserted that the artist's subjectivity is the starting point for authentic creativity. Hooper shared with the Ruptura artists an attitude that is paradoxically more subversive than the overtly revolutionary art of the muralists: by insisting on a deeply personal expression, he challenged the dominion of all authority that proposes to assign preconceived functions or messages to the artist. This attitude of the Ruptura artists is congruent with many European trends of the middle 20th century and we could think of Hooper - who lived and studied in both Mexico and Europe - as expressing the combined aesthetic and philosophical currents of both continents. Most of his art is in the Ariane Fine Arts in Los Altos and can been seen anytime by appointment.

For more information contact : Jane Davis-Arnovick Phone: (650) 280-0219 Email: janedavis1938@gmail.com


List of Hooper One-Man Shows

  • Whitney Modern Gallery, Los Gatos, Exclusive 2017
  • Silicon Valley Open Studios, May 6th-7th, 13th-14th, 20th-21st 2017
  • Larson Gallery, Oakland, October, 2016
  • Galleria Tile, San Francisco, January, 2016
  • Galleria Tile, San Francisco, February, 2016
  • Les Arts Gallery, San Francisco, 2008
  • Marina Gallery, Porto Vallarta, Mexico, 1996
  • Galeria Uno, Porto Vallarta, Mexico, 1995
  • Stremmel Gallery, Reno, 1991
  • Vorpal Gallery, San Francisco, 1984
  • The University of California, Santa Cruz,1975
  • The Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery, College Five, 1975
  • The Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery, Cowell College, 1975
  • Re-Vision Gallery, Santa Monica, 1974
  • Canyon Gallery, Los Angeles, 1966
  • Sabrina Gallery, Los Angeles, 1965
  • David Stuart Galleries, Santa Monica, 1964
  • Roberts Art Gallery, Santa Monica, 1963
  • Primus-Stuart Galleries, Los Angeles, 1962
  • Bertha Lewinson Gallery, Los Angeles, 1959
  • Falk-Raboff Gallery, Beverly Hills, 1952
  • La Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticos, Mexico, 1951


Partial List of Group Exhibitions

  • Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, 1958
  • San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, 1960
  • Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, 1960
  • "Fifty Paintings by Thirty-Seven Artists of the Los Angeles Area," Dickson Art Center, UCLA
  • "Fifty California Artists" (Organized by the San Francisco Museum of Art with the Collaboration of the Los Angeles County Museum), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  • UCLA Art Galleries, from 1958 - 1962
  • The Artist's Environment: West Coast, Amon Carter Museum of Art, Fort Worth. TX 1962
  • Art Across America - Invitational, San Francisco Museum of Art. Honor: of 15 painters from Southern California to be selected by James Elliot, Chief Curator, Los Angeles County Museum, to represent the Southwest in this exhibition.