The most Influential artist of his time that you’ve probably never heard of.
This past Labor Day weekend, we took a road trip to Paoli, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia, to visit the Wharton Esherick Museum. Wharton Esherick, born in 1887, was a visionary artist, who was widely recognized for his vanguard approach to design. Most of his pieces, constructed using wood, are simplistic in form and often pay homage to the natural world that surrounded his workspace. Even the building designs, which include the studio, garage (currently used as the welcome center), a reconstructed German Expressionist outhouse and a second workshop (added in 1956 and now used as family living quarters), are all asymmetrical wonders.
Our hour long tour, led by a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic docent, began with a brief biographical introduction to Wharton’s life and then it was on to the studio. The four levels of living and workspace are filled with more than 200 pieces of his work, including fine examples of his functional and often whimsical furniture designs, sculptures, paintings, woodcuts, furnishings, utensils and model studies.
Esherick built the first structure in this location beginning in 1926, and continued to expand and work here for over 40 years, until his death in 1970. If you love hand carved wood and custom furniture design as I do, you must visit this place! The Wharton Esherick studio, declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993, has been offering tours to the public since 1972. It’s easy to get there by car, but be sure to make your reservations in advance.
We enjoyed our day trip and there are a lot of fun things to do in the area. Had it not been for the rain that started right after we left the museum, we would have headed over to The Valley Forge National Historical Park, which is less than 10 minutes away. Instead, we had to settle for the Victory Brewing Company in Downington, where you can tour the brewery and have lunch and beer at the Brewpub afterwards.
To read more about Wharton Esherick or to visit the museum CLICK HERE.