Jesse Waugh at Elm Street in Richmond, California in 1978

Artist Jesse Waugh is making an impact with his work and art movement entitled ‘Pulchrism’, which advocates for beauty as the purpose of art. His art manifesto “The Pulchrist Manifesto” has been recognized as a significant historical art manifesto, and his work is considered to be at the forefront of a new push to restore beauty to art.

Jesse Waugh is an artist who  champions Beauty as the purpose of art, according to the tenets of his proprietary art movement - Pulchrism.

His work has been exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and at various galleries and venues. His artist monograph has been archived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,  Tate Britain,  Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Art, Agnes Gund Collection, and others. Jesse Waugh's art manifesto  The Pulchrist Manifesto  has been recognized as a  significant historical art manifesto.

Employing painting and video as his primary media, Jesse Waugh has had his work broadcast on the BBC, National Geographic, and also Peruvian television. His work has been the subject of academic study at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Brown University in Rhode Island, and Los Angeles City College in Hollywood.

Jesse Waugh on Everipedia

Click here for Jesse Waugh's CV: Curriculum Vitae / Exhibitions



Jesse's work is most often realized in his proprietary style: Pulchrism, an art movement which champions Beauty as the purpose of art.


Early works

Waugh began his experimentation with painting in Florence, Italy, in 1996, while staying at the home of Italian musician Luigi Gagliardi, Artistic Director of the Tuscan Institute of Music and Art. Inspired by Renaissance painting, Waugh completed a series of oil paintings on various materials such as cardboard, aluminum, and paper. The most important of these paintings consisted of a large golden sphere flanked by two smaller blue and red spheres representing a godhead and its dichotomous devil and angel, and a self-portrait on the back of an aluminum road sign depicting Waugh's lips sewn shut with black thread in the form of the words "I am".

While living in Manchester in 2005, Waugh produced his first oil painting on canvas, entitled Infinity - a midnight blue abstraction of the night sky. He went on to create Gold Disc, Sparkle Clouds, and Disintermediation in 2007-8 - all more or less abstract paintings consisting of oil on canvas and sometimes glitter. Then in 2010, after moving into a rural workshop in Glastonbury, England, Waugh had space to experiment with larger pieces. This opportunity for experimentation proved fertile and resulted in a number of works including Splatterstar, Sun Orange, Gold Sun, Moongate, Blood Sacrifice Altar, and the Splatter Paintings. This era marked an important interim phase in the transition from abstract to figurative works for Jesse Waugh. Rainbow, which transmuted into RAINBOW DECAY in 2012, was also produced during Waugh's tenure at his Glastonbury art studio Tranquil Turn.[9]

Progression to figurative painting

During time spent in his apartment in New York City's Bowery District in 2011, Waugh began his first attempts at full scale figurative oil painting with his work Morpho Alpha. This first figurative work was followed by Morpho Beta later in 2011, and by Huangshan Butterfly Explosion in early 2012. These three paintings are perhaps the earliest works which could be considered figurative.[10]

Waugh spent the first half of 2013 living in Florence, Italy. During this period he frequented the Uffizi and other museums, studying Renaissance painting in an attempt to emulate its characteristics, which he hoped to be able to reproduce in his own paintings as a way to create and communicate beauty in the art he produced. He began with 5=6 - a striking image of a god descending on a Florentine street. This was his first full-fledged attempt at verisimilitude in painting. He continued experimenting with various compositions, producing Suffrage and Beauty Disarming Love. In March 2013, Waugh painted his first fully pulchrist work of art: Galatea.

After a summer spent in New York City - as well as in Japan exploring Shinto temples and Japanese gardens in Kyoto, Nara, and Tokyo - Jesse Waugh moved to Glasgow, Scotland. During his stay in Glasgow, Waugh intensely studied the history of Art Nouveau art and architecture. He travelled to Vienna in December, 2013, to experience the works of Secessionists Otto Wagner, Gustav Klimt, and Joseph Maria Olbrich. Back in Scotland, Waugh began to experiment with new tonalities in his paintings, developing fresh aesthetics for Pitcher Plants, Sunset Moth, and Rain at the Arno.

Moving to Brighton early in 2014, Jesse painted Pseudonarcissus, which shows daffodils at Brighton Pavillion gardens, Nadorcott Mandarin, and Center Bonsai - an image of a bonsai standing fast in the center of a storm, which represents Jesse Waugh's soul. Proceeding forward, Jesse created three butterfly paintings: Brighton Butterfly: Red Admiral, Monarch, and Starry Night Cracker. 2015 saw Jesse deploy a relaxed style in reaction to the pressure he felt from attending art school. He produced Pathological Altruism, Beauty is Truth, and Polished Concept.



Waugh produced his first film El Angel on Super 8 while attending film school at Los Angeles City College in 1994. El Angel was inspired by Hollywood's fading grandeur, and by the urban decay prevalent in Los Angeles at the time. Between 1994-1996 he created the DIOS Trilogy on Super 8, a series of three films mostly set in the Los Angeles River which together comprise an apostrophe to Los Angeles personified in the protagonist El Angel. Waugh produced Autopia - his last short shot on Super 8 film - in 1997, which depicted a dialogue between a Nihilist - played by Waugh himself - and a Choir of Angels donning masks of his face. While operating his FENP Gallery, Waugh also produced several video documentaries including "Gray" - which showed the notorious East Los Angeles graffiti artist Gray spray-painting his tag on walls around Downtown L.A. and the L.A. River.[11][12] Hydrophobe, in which Waugh stars as protagonist, was nominated for Best Experimental Short at the 2008 Pill Awards.[13] 




Jesse Waugh had an epiphany early in 1995, at which point he realised that he would make the communication of Beauty the goal of his life. A numinous revelation inspired him to devote his art to the cause which he would later label Pulchrism: The championing of Beauty as the purpose of art.

Beginning with his first film El Angel, which was exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), he began trying to reestablish in his art a presence for Beauty - which had become anathema to the contemporary art world. Completing a short film trilogy entitled D!OS in 1996, which was comprised of El Angel, D!OS (featuring Rice the Dove), and El Diablo, Waugh went on to found Free Exhibition Not Prostitution (FENP) - a non-profit community art exhibition space on Sunset Blvd in Echo Park, near downtown Los Angeles.

After studying art and art history at Los Angeles City College and City College of San Francisco, Waugh completed his undergraduate studies at San Francisco State University in 2000. At SFSU, Waugh received a special commendation and academic credit for Exhibition Design from the art department for his documentary Exhibition, which chronicled the development of the FENP gallery.

Moving to New York City later in 2000, after residing for a time in Cork, Ireland and Berlin, Germany, Waugh founded a production company named Carpophage Corporation, and began work on short art films and documentaries, including Nanay - a natural history documentary concerned with deforestation in the Amazon. Nanay was honoured with a screening at Brown University’s International Department building, after which Waugh gave a talk to a gathering of prominent academics and students. Nanay was subsequently broadcast on Peruvian television, and screened at Wildscreen Film Festival in Bristol, UK. Footage from Nanay was featured in the 2013 National Geographic documentary Access 360° World Heritage: The Amazon.

In 2006 Jesse Waugh founded PRISMANIA, a company which produced products which were sold at science museum stores. He designed three product lines: the BIG PRISM, the RAINBOW PRISM, and the WINDOW PRISM. By 2013, PRISMANIA had sold upwards of 20,000 optical crystal prisms through science museums stores across the US and UK, as well as in Denmark and the Netherlands. PRISMANIA prisms were featured on the 2009 BBC documentary Rocket Science.

In 2011, Waugh founded an eponymous design company: JESSE WAUGH LTD, and travelled to Moradabad, India and Shenzhen, China, where he visited numerous metal goods factories, and learned the manufacturing processes involved in producing metal housewares. Following on with this exploration into applied arts, Waugh spent the summer of 2012 in Lisbon working with Porcel(Indústria Portuguesa de Porcelanas S.A.) - a porcelain manufacturer with whom he developed his Labyrinthine dinnerware set.

Jesse Waugh produced his monograph JESSE WAUGH: Portrait of an Artist and His Strivings for Pulchrism in 2012, which has since been archived at the Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Art, and at numerous galleries including Participant Inc. in New York City. The monograph has also enjoyed considerable online success, receiving thousands of views and downloads at online sites such as Project Gutenberg, Scribd, Google Books, and iTunes.

A sojourn in Rome and Florence, Italy, in 2013, afforded Jesse Waugh the ability to study first hand the masterpieces of the Renaissance. He proceeded to experiment with figurative oil painting, and currently continues in this vein whilst attempting to create works which adhere to the tenets of The Pulchrist Manifesto - a manifesto Waugh wrote in 2012 to distil the core concepts of Pulchrism.

Currently experimenting with 3D design, Waugh has utilised CAD software to produce a number of decorative vases, bowls, and other objects which have received significant praise, and which he believes embody the precepts of Pulchrism successfully. Waugh intends to continue on with this experimentation in a spectrum of genres and media, the products of which together will form a kind of ‘life gesamtkunstwerk’, ‘total work of art’, or opera.



Jesse Waugh was born May 6, 1974 in Berkeley, California to parents Donald Stephen Waugh  and Christine Isabel (Coleman) Waugh. Devout followers of the Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda, Waugh's parents raised him in close proximity to the Self-Realization Fellowship  temples in Richmond, and Encinitas, California. His exposure to New Age concepts, Hindu ideology, yoga, and meditation practices was to have a profound impact on his artistic sensibilities later in life.[1]

Waugh was first introduced to the contemporary art scene while attending an exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in 1989.[2] In 1992, at the age of 18, he moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Hollywood, California. At the same time he was attending the film school at Los Angeles City College in 1994, he began to experiment with a variety of media, including sculpture, painting, and music. In 1997 he founded FENP Gallery on Sunset Blvd in Echo Park, Los Angeles. In the same year Waugh's film El Angel was exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the L.A. Freewaves installation.[3]

While focusing on filmmaking, Waugh also experimented with avant-garde music. He fronted for alternative band Pedestrian in a gallery performance of his song "Minimum Wage", and collaborated with fellow artist and filmmaker Paul Sbrizzi in the Post-Pop band Bubbles.[4][5] In 2000, after spending time in Berlin, Waugh moved to New York City and founded a production company, with the help of his colleague Armando Dabalus, called "Carpophage Corporation". The September 11 attacks happened while Waugh was living in an office in Tribeca, and he had to escape north along the West Side Highway from the falling South Tower of the World Trade Center during the attack.[6]

In 2004, Waugh moved to Great Britain. During a four year period spent in Manchester, England, he and co-producer Keith Williamson produced a children's programme pilot for the BBC entitled "The Greggy and Berky Show", which featured animated characters embarking on a journey to restore the crown to their king.[7]

In 2006, Waugh launched a scientific educational goods company called PRISMANIA[8], for which he designed a series of optical crystal prism products. These prisms were sold through science museum stores throughout the US, UK, and Continental Europe until 2013, and were featured in the BBC documentary series "Rocket Science" in 2009.


Jesse Waugh was born in 1974 to Donald Stephen Waugh (1947-) and Christine Isabel Waugh (nee Coleman) (1952-) in Berkeley, California. Both of his parents are life-long devotees of Paramahansa Yogananda  through Self-Realization Fellowship. Jesse's environment while growing was composed of a West Coast hippie commune atmosphere combined with esoteric New Age Western Hinduism as practiced by his parents and the Self-Realization Fellowship devotees surrounding him. He was the first baby to be 'christened' (initiated) at the Self-Realization Fellowship Richmond Temple. Jesse's parents have resided primarily in Dwarahat, India, near Babaji's Cave, since 2002.


Jesse's parents Donald Stephen Waugh and Christine Isabel (Coleman) Waugh  wedding in 1972


Father: Donald Stephen Waugh

While living in India in 1969, Jesse's father Steve Waugh studied under famed sarod virtuoso Ali Akbar Khan, where he learned to play the sarod, sitar, and harmonium. He travelled extensively throughout India, Afghanistan, and the Middle East during the 1960s. Steve was also active in the countercultural scene in California and the Midwest, associating with the likes of Allen Ginsberg and other prominent alternative cultural luminaries.

Mother: Christine Isabel Waugh (née Coleman)

A natural-born advocate, Chris Waugh has always been active in championing causes in which she believes. Chris was born and raised in an 'All-American' Midwestern town in the middle of Michigan called Gladwin. She was inspired at a young age to seek deeper meaning in life, and went against the grain to venture outside of her immediate environment in pursuit of greater horizons and valuable experiences.

Steve and Chris met in Saginaw, Michigan - a small city which is mentioned in Simon and Garfunkel's song "America" - and subsequently moved to the Bay Area, where Jesse was born.


Paternal Grandfather: William Robert Waugh

Jesse Waugh's paternal grandfather William Robert Waugh  (1917-2015) was Chief Financial Officer and Acting President of General Motors Canada, and mentored past GM President Maureen Kempston-Darkes  who eulogized W. R. Waugh as follows: "He was a great mentor to me but also a great friend. He was a man of great intelligence and humour who took a strong interest in mentoring young people."

Click here for the McMaster University Bio for W.R. Waugh.


William Robert Waugh - Jesse's paternal grandfather - with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in the 1970s


Maternal Grandfather:  Leo Jesse Coleman

Jesse's maternal grandfather Leo Jesse Coleman (1921-)  founded and operated a successful Ford dealership F&L Ford (now LaFontaine Ford)  in Gladwin, Michigan, as well as service stations in the surrounding area. 


Jesse Waugh with his  maternal grandfather Leo Jesse Coleman at a gold mine in Arizona, 1992


Maternal Grandmother: Isabel Wilson Coleman

Jesse's maternal grandmother Isabel Wilson Coleman   (nee Black) (1921-2010) served as District Advisor for the Girl Scouts Council in Saginaw, Michigan. Jesse has stated that she was of utmost kindness and that he misses her dearly.


Jesse's Grandmother Isabel Wilson (Black) Coleman with Jesse Waugh and Mr. Froggy  in Michigan in 1978


Paternal Grandmother: Audrey Bernice Waugh

Jesse Waugh's paternal grandmother Audrey Bernice Waugh  (nee Graydon) (1917-2009)  was from a prominent Niagara area Loyalist  family with roots dating in the area back to the 18th century. She was a sculptor and collagist who worked in a variety of media, and was greatly influenced by Marc Chagall.


Jesse's paternal grandmother Audrey Bernice Graydon Waugh

Flowers painting by  Audrey Bernice Graydon Waugh





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