Oscar Bluemner

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Gallery Database:

Oscar Florianus Bluemner (1867-1938). "Pompei" page from Bluemner's 1912 Italian sketchbook, ink
and pencil, 4" x 7". Framed under glass, with Sid Deutsch gift inscription on the backing. Some
under lettering giving coloration survives.

BLUEMNER
SKETCHED POMPEI!

Curator's Comment:

Oscar Florianus Bluemner was bornin Hanover, Germany. His first one-man show of portraits was held at the Berlin Latin School in 1886.  In 1892 he won a medal at the Royal Academy of Design in Berlin where he studied painting and architecture. But dissatisfied with German restrictive aesthetic policies, Bluemner left for America that same year. By 1901 he was a successful architect in New York, but between 1908 and 1910, Bluemner began painting in earnest, making sketching trips throughout New Jersey and Long Island.  In 1910, the year he “kicked the building business over,” he met Alfred Stieglitz, who sparked his interest in the artistic innovations of the European and American avant-garde. In 1912 Bluemner sailed for Europe, where he had a one-man show of landscapes at the Gurlitt Galleries in Berlin.  Stopping over in England, Bluemner toured Roger Fry's Post-Impressionist exhibition at Grafton and became fully committed to the modernist ideology. He traveled to Paris and Italy where he saw the work of Matisse, Cézanne, and the Futurists, and created thousands of sketches inspired by the museums and scenes he visited. We offer a sketch made at this time showing a view of Vesuvius across the Bay of Naples that he labeled "Pompei."

Returning to the  U.S., Bluemner contributed one landscape to the 1913 Armory Show and wrote an article defending modernism for the Stieglitz progressive publication Camera Work. The ongoing connection with Stieglitz had a significant impact on Bluemner’s career—in 1915 Stieglitz gave him a solo exhibition at his Gallery 291.  Bluemner’s paintings of this period were tightly structured compositions in the Cubist manner blazing with Fauve-inspired reds, oranges, and contrasting hues.   Stieglitz continued to support him and gave him another solo show in 1928.  The following year Bluemner had a one-man exhibition at the Whitney Studio Galleries. Bluemner was fascinated with the formal, emotional, and spiritual qualities of strong color.  He dubbed himself the “Vermillionaire” in reference to his reliance on bright red hues for his houses and barns.  He explored his color theories in angular, brightly colored landscapes, abstracted from nature.  Bluemner is today the object of renewed critical and public interest.  In 2005–06, his career was the subject of a major retrospective, “Oscar Bluemner: A Passion for Color,” organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.  Bluemner is represented in private and public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MOMA; the Phillips Collection, and the Amon Carter Museum, Texas. Our page was obtained from the artist as a gift to famed German gallerist Sid Deutsch, who in turn re gifted it with his own inscription.

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Bare pencil sketch
showing color notation

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The same view today

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Colored Italian sketch
brought $4,000

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The Artist ca. 1920

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Red Farm brought $5 million in 2011

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Umbrella pines on Vesuvius