Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze, called Wols, was a hugely influential, if mostly commercially unsuccessful, painter and photographer during the first half of the 20th century. Wols's signature style is called tachisme, a term derived from a French word meaning ''stain,'' an appropriate description of his style. Wols's so-called stains contain recognizable shapes, ranging from kittens to breasts to nuclear explosions, all springing directly from his psyche to the canvas without premeditation. ''Wols,'' a retrospective currently on display at The Menil Collection, explores that spontaneity.
''The paintings are beautiful and mysterious, ranging from very raw and hermetic to luminous and otherworldly,'' Menil Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Toby Kamps says. ''Wols's early photographs from the 1930s were wildly inventive; the delicate dance between figuration and abstraction in all his drawings is fascinating. It's impossible to single out any one work; each one is a universe within itself.'' The exhibition features 20 paintings and 50 drawings, watercolors and photographs Wols left behind prior to his early death at age 38 from food poisoning.
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Through January 12. 1515 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-525-9400 or visit menil.org. Free.
Wednesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Starts: Sept. 13. Continues through Jan. 12, 2013