Work of the Week – “June” by Charles F. Quest
by Jason T. Perry
This week’s Work of the Week is June by artist Charles F. Quest.
June portrays that universal mid-range shot that is standard to portrait works. But a close look at Charles F. Quest’s June shows that it is anything but standard. The work is a woodcut on paper, and the buildup of ink can be noticed at the very bottom of the piece (although it is better noticed on the reverse side). The coarsely-scooped area of white, where the wide blade of the gouge has shaped the wood, are marks suggestive of the woodcut medium. It is admirable how Quest was able to carve such a precise image onto the wood.
Quest seems to have carved this using mostly straight lines, yet he was still able to create the curve edges in June’s lips as well as give depth in her deep black eyes. The farther away the viewer gets from the work the more the black and white blends together to create the emotion of June. Her somber look is much more noticeable and her elongated neck gives her a strong and tall appearance. Quest’s mixture of black and whites makes the piece come alive, and the forehead is very interesting to look at because the ink blends together and gives her head a digital appearance. Possibly it could represent stress lines in someone’s forehead. What kind of life has June gone through?
Quest was born in Troy, NY in 1904. He attended Washington University School of Fine Arts where he studied painting and sculpture for five years. Quest also studied outside the U.S. in France, England and Spain. He eventually ventured back to Washington University School of Fine Arts to become a professor at the institution where he once studied. In addition to teaching there, he taught at St. Louis public schools, the St. Louis School of Fine Art, and 5 Art Center in St. Louis.
Quest has had his works featured in over 95 museums and galleries including the U.S. War Department in Washington, D.C., the University of Wisconsin, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, and the Library of Congress. He taught art for 42 years and inspired countless artist during his career.
Quest passed away on January 1, 1993, in his home in Tryon, North Carolina.
Artwork above: Charles F. Quest, June , 1967, Woodcut on paper. Gift of Mary and Jerald Melberg, 2013. 11.02.65.