Christopher Wilmarth (1943 – 1987) achieved significant recognition at a young age. At 30 years old, his work was already in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
Wilmarth graduated from Cooper Union in 1966 and shortly thereafter began exhibiting in New York. By 1978, Wilmarth, disillusioned with the art market, departed from all dealer representation and established the Studio of the First Amendment, a place where he could show his own works free from the demands of the commercial art world. He stated, “If it wasn’t magic, it was merchandise,” and refused to produce “merchandise.”
In 1987, however, Wilmarth tragically committed suicide at the age of forty-four. As a testimony to his strong following, the Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted a retrospective sixteen months following, opening in April of 1989. His art was also celebrated by the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University, and the Princeton University Press, which published an award-winning monograph of Christopher Wilmarth in 2004.