Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938)

Bluemner trained as an architect, but gave it up in 1911 to focus on painting. He had become interested in modern art about 1907, when he began educating himself about art practice, history, and theory. [1] Bluemner visited every noteworthy exhibition in New York and voraciously read German and American art magazines, theoretical texts, and technical treatises. In 1908 he first visited Alfred Stieglitz’s Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue, where he likely saw an exhibition of works by Henri Matisse. He began frequenting the gallery, formed a friendship with Stieglitz, and in time became as informed as anyone in Stieglitz’s circle about modern art.  In June 1912 Bluemner visited the massive Internationale Kunstausstellung des Sonderbundes Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde and Kunstler (International Art Exhibition of the Federation of West German Art-Lovers [Patrons] and Artists) in Cologne, Germany, which included nearly 700 examples of contemporary European art and served as the model for the organizers of the Armory Show. He felt that the American effort did not measure up, concluding that: “The new art movement of Europe has once more established the standard of true art. It is up to the American also to give his art the form of the living day.” [2]

[1] Barbara Haskell, Oscar Bluemner: A Passion for Color, exh. cat. (New York: WhitneyMuseum of American Art, 2005), 32-33.

[2] Ibid., 38.

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