Oscar Florianus Bluemner

Oscar Bluemner, known as Oscar Florianus Bluemner (21 June 1867 in Prenzlau, 12 January 1938 in South Braintree, Massachusetts) , was a German-born American Modernist painter. Oscar Bluemner is a representative of Modernism, many of his works show abstracted buildings or landscapes, especially the intense color scheme is striking. He is most famous of the geometric, luscious colors of landscapes, which are the synthesis of nature and industry . After 1933 he signed his paintings Florianus, the Latin idealization of his name.

His pictures could almost be described as the predecessors of pop art. This painting style was at that time very unusual in the USA, so that he was usually smiled and did not succeed in his lifetime. Meanwhile, his works at auctions but considerable prices.

Friedrich Julius Oscar Blümner was born in a family with rich artistic traditions; His father was a master of Freemasonry. In 1871 he began to draw and paint directly from nature. At the local grammar school in Elberfeld he learned art history, also taking part in chalk and pastel drawing and watercolor and landscape painting. In 1885 he had his own exhibition in the gymnasium. In 1886 he began his studies at the Konigliche Technische Hochschule in Berlin at the Faculty of Architecture. After graduation he received a royal medal. He has done several public utility projects in Germany. Despite his promising career, the architect decided to abandon the conservative artistic environment of Germany in favor of the American avant-garde.

In October 1892, Blümner left for America to settle in Chicago in January 1893, where he became an architect’s assistant. He participated in preparations for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. In 1897 he married Lin Schumm, and in 1899 was granted American citizenship. In search of work Bluemner often traveled between Chicago and New York, settling in the latter in 1900. There he began to participate in architectural competitions and exhibitions. He was a supporter of Henry Richardson’s style, and he also admired Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1904, he collaborated with architect Michael J. Garvin, who appropriated his Bronx Borough Courthouse project, forcing him to pursue his financial rights in court. This dispute, as well as the disappointment with architectural policy, has made Bluemner’s architectural discouragement more interested in New York’s artistic life by visiting galleries, museums and auction rooms. He visited a number of important exhibitions, such as the Impressionist exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Gallery and the “The Eight” exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery. In 1908 he visited the 291 Gallery by making friends with Alfred Stieglitz. He joined a group of New York vanguard artists known as “291,” with such artists as Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Charles Demuth and Paul Strand. His relationship with Stieglitz influenced Bluemner’s further career. In 1910 he finally decided to break with architecture, and in 1911 he painted his first oil painting. The early, mature work of the artist, beginning in 1911, expresses a great deal of its dependence on both German and German expressionist philosophy. Of these early works only a few survived in the form in which they were originally painted; From many of them, he hiked and sanded the surfaces to convert them a few years later.

Stieglitz presented his works in the gallery to Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh for the first time in America. He also supported young American painters, including Bluemner, to exhibit their works in his gallery. Bluemner has gained a solid foundation in the art history, has been active in reviewing art, lecturer, writer and critic. He later became a regular contributor to Stieglitz in the publication of the Camera Work magazine.

In April 1912 Bluemner returned to Europe to continue his studies. He traveled extensively in Germany, France, Italy, England and the Netherlands, where he studied the art of former masters and contemporary artists. He made extensive notes, and based on his research he made many sketches. His early works show the influence of tonalism, impressionism, post-Impressionism and Japanese art, as evidenced by his postmodern technique, the flattened perspective and the vivid application of color. During his stay abroad, Bluemner exhibited his watercolors at Galerie Fritz Gurlitt in Berlin, where he previously presented his controversial works by Die Brücke. During his stay in England he visited the Grafton Galleries post-impressionist exhibition of Roger Fry, who became an avid advocate of modernist ideology

Soon after returning to the United States, Bluemner made his debut at several of New York’s top galleries and exhibitions; Five of his works have been exhibited as part of the Armory Show, and he was one of sixteen American artists whose works were exhibited in the 1916 Exhibition of Modern American Painters. Despite participation in subsequent exhibitions, including solo ones for the next ten years, Bluemner failed to sell too many paintings, so he and his family lived almost in poverty. In 1926, after the premature death of his wife, Lines Schumm Bluemner moved to South Braintree, Massachusetts. Over the next few years he had several significant solo exhibitions at the Whitney Studio Galleries in New York and at the Marie Harriman Gallery. Overwhelmed with guilt and guilt, he turned increasingly toward the emotional symbolism of color, abandoning the mottled Mondrian’s style for more naturalistic landscapes. The house and the trees, as well as the sunsets and the sunsets, were the frequent subjects of this period. He still experimented with new techniques, and his oil paintings, featuring a light palette and shiny surface, gained critical acclaim. Although the artist was respected and exhibited a lot, the sale of paintings was often modest. The unstable economic situation and changing tastes of the public additionally contributed to its precarious financial situation. His abstract works began to lose popularity as the importance of regionalism grew. In 1932 the Whitney Museum of American Art purchased one of his paintings for his permanent collection. In order to make ends meet, Bluemner accepted orders from government agencies: Public Works of Art Project (1934) and Works Progress Administration (1936). Cancer has made it difficult for them to fulfill their contractual obligations. Shrinking prospects, growing debt, poverty and deteriorating health made him lose his life on January 12, 1938.

In 1997, Bluemner’s Daughter of Bluemner, Vera Bluemner Kouba (1903-1997) handed over his rich collection of over one thousand father’s works to Stetson University. The legacy includes works done in various media, from sketches and charcoal sketches to the most important works such as oil paintings and watercolors, representing all periods of artist’s life. Kouba, who always had the impression that her father was underestimated in the world of art, kept her work in her home in DeLand, Florida, where after her retirement in 1970 she and her husband Rudolph Kouba resided.

Between October 7, 2005 and February 12, 2006, the Whitney Museum of American Art organized a devoted artist Oscar Bluemner: A Passion for Color. The exhibition, which was curated by Barbara Haskell, aimed to present the artist’s entire work from the earliest works, inspired by architecture to the later, colorful landscapes, showing them the author’s full creative potential. The exhibition, conceived as a re-evaluation of Bluemner’s place in the pantheon of key figures of American modernism in the early twentieth century, was the largest retrospective exhibition devoted to his work.

November 30, 2011 Bluemner Image The illusion of the prairie in New Jersey (Red Pochuck Farm) was sold by Christie’s New York auction house for $ 5,346,500.

In 2013, the Montclair Art Museum organized an exhibition of Bluemner’s works, Oscar Bluemner’s America: Picturing Paterson, New Jersey, devoted to the 100th anniversary of two major events related to him; In 1913 Paterson Bluemner painted images depicting the so-called. Silent Strike (Paterson Silk Strike) and the Armory Show in Manhattan, where American society became acquainted with the avant-garde styles of Europe.

During the first two decades of the twentieth century, Bluemner created his own unique style that reflected the influence of Cubism, Futurism, Fauvism, expressionism, synchromism and his own architectural experiences. Inspired by his paintings, the artist sought in his local environment and in the landscapes, ports and factories of New York and New Jersey. A constant element of his work has been the contrast between nature and industry. Theme images were block buildings in geometric forms, with sharp contours, placed in an abstract landscape. The artist was more about simplifying reality than creating pure abstraction. To create dramatic and emotional works, Bluemner used expressive, prismatic colors in bold combinations and combinations; Considering that his art “should come from within,” he used color as a psychological and emotional factor.

Color was for him a means to create a form and revitalize the landscape. Each color has a specific meaning and emotion:

Red color – the main color, the maximum of everything artistic and has the greatest attraction, is a symbol of power, vitality, energy, life, fire, blood, passion, struggle, emotion and rage,
Green color – associated with rest, with something in between,
White – means light, energy, snow, cold and clean,
Black color – symbolizes darkness, foreground, sadness, society,
Gray – is the opposite of color, is neutral, reversed
Yellow – associated with light, warmth, merriment, orange and red, symbolizes progress and intelligence, is the opposite of blue and violet,
Blue – it’s the coolness and the distance. It is passive spatially, contrasting with the red, [expresses the mood] from joy to despair,
Violet – means distinction, celebration, rarity, anxiety, distance, is poor in light, closest to gray.
The effect he made was simple, complex and suggestive, unlike anything his contemporaries created. Bluemner also surpassed its peers in terms of originality and technical innovation. He often combined pigments with unusual materials such as egg yolk, resin, casein, gouache, formaldehyde, lacquer and lead, putting them on various substrates from canvas to wood and cardboard. In his experiments he achieved characteristic colors and textures, which are the essence of his artistic style.

In the 1920s, Bluemner focused on watercolors, whose dramatic forms and rich palette resulted from his studies of Oriental art, symbolic painting, and the views of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Arthur Schopenhauer, Henri Bergson and Oswald Spengler. His paintings of the 1930s, like the Compositions for Color Themes series, contained the formal inspirations of classical music and Freud’s iconic views on the subconscious.

Bluemner’s contribution and his contribution to American art from the early twentieth century put him among the most important American modernists.

Stetson University holds more than 1,000 pieces of Oscar Bluemner’s work bequeathed in 1997 by his daughter, Vera Bluemner Kouba. In 2009 the Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center at Stetson opened with a primary mission of housing a providing exhibition space for the Kouba Collection. Often overlooked in his lifetime, Bluemner now is widely acknowledged as a key player in the creation of American artistic Modernism, with better-known colleagues such as Georgia O’Keeffe and John Marin.