OSCAR BLUEMNER 
American (1867-1938) 
"Fall River" 
watercolor and gouache on paper, signed with artist's monogram lower

left and titled upper left. 
4 7/8 x 6 5/8 inches 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oscar Bluemner is best known for his expressive use of color and Cubist influenced works. Bluemner was born in 1867 in Hanover, Germany. He left Germany in 1892 after studying architecture and design in Berlin. Initially, he moved between Chicago and New York following architectural commissions. In Chicago, he worked as a draughtsman during the World’s Columbian Exhibition. In 1901, he moved to New York City and began to turn away from architecture in pursuit of a career as an artist.

 

Bluemner visited numerous museums and galleries in New York. He studied art history, painting techniques and color theory extensively.  In 1912, he arranged an exhibition of his works in Berlin and went to Europe for seven-months. There he absorbed the new trends in German art and studied the work of the German Expressionists and the Futurists. Upon his return to New York, he began writing published articles on art and color theory and exhibiting his works at venues around the city.

 

By 1913, already an established artist, Bluemner exhibited in the famed New York Armory Show. There, he gained the patronage of Alfred Stieglitz who gave Bluemner a one-man show in 1915 at his gallery ‘291.’

 

Bluemner’s primary interest was the emotional and psychological impact of color. He experimented with bold colors and color saturation. Many of his works reveal his architectural training as buildings were a common motif in his work. The effect was dramatic, and Bluemner is known for compositions that evoke a strong mood even though there is no clear narrative.


In the 1930s, Bluemner worked for the WPA (The Works Progress Administration) painting rhythmic compositions influenced by Freud’s theories of the unconscious and contemporary music. Today, Bluemner is considered one of the leading American Modernists. He is celebrated both for his paintings and evocative works on paper. Bluemner’s works can be seen at The Phillips Collection, the National Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the MetropolitanMuseum  and many other public institutions.

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