Oscar Florianus Bluemner

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Oscar Bluemner
Bluemner-Form and Light.jpg
Form and Light, Motif in West New Jersey (1914), Hunter Museum of American Art
Born Friedrich Julius Oskar Blümner
(1867-06-21)June 21, 1867
Prenzlau, Germany
Died January 12, 1938(1938-01-12) (aged 70)
South Braintree, Massachusetts
Nationality German American
Education Royal Academy of Design, Berlin
Known for Painting

Oscar Bluemner (June 21, 1867 – January 12, 1938), born as Friedrich Julius Oskar Blümner[1] and since 1933, known as Oscar Florianus Bluemner,[2] was a German-born American Modernist painter.

Early life[edit]

Bluemner was born as Friedrich Julius Oskar Blümner in Prenzlau, Germany on June 21, 1867.[1] He studied painting and architecture at the Royal Academy of Design in Berlin.[3]


Bluemner moved to Chicago in 1893 where he freelanced as a draftsman at the World's Columbian Exposition. After the exposition, he attempted to find work in Chicago. In 1901, Bluemner relocated to New York City where he also could not find steady employment. In 1903, he created the winning design for the Bronx Borough Courthouse in New York,[4] although it is credited to Michael J. Garvin. The scandal took down borough president Louis Haffen for corruption and fraud. He had pushed Garvin's earlier appointment as buildings supervisor.[5]


In 1908 Bluemner met Alfred Stieglitz, who introduced him to the artistic innovations of the European and American avant-garde. By 1910, Bluemner had decided to pursue painting full-time rather than architecture.

He exhibited in the 1913 Armory Show. Then in 1915 Stieglitz gave him a solo exhibition at his gallery, 291. Despite participating in several exhibitions, including solo shows, for the next ten years Bluemner failed to sell many paintings and lived with his family in near-poverty.[4]

He created paintings for the Federal Arts Project in the 1930s.[3]

Later life[edit]

After his wife’s death in 1926, Bluemner moved to South Braintree, Massachusetts. He committed suicide on January 12, 1938.


Stetson University holds more than 1,000 pieces of Oscar Bluemner's work bequeathed in 1997 by his daughter, Vera Bluemner Kouba. 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.

An oil painting by Bluemner, Illusion of a Prairie, New Jersey (Red Farm at Pochuck) (1915) sold at Christie's, New York, for $5,346,500 on November 30, 2011.


Year Title Image Collection Comments
1932 Imagination, casein with ground watercolors (prepared by the artist) on paper board view Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. IAP 08260662


  1. ^ a b Haskell 2005, p. 11
  2. ^ Haskell 2005, p. 204
  3. ^ a b Phillips Collection; Susan Behrends Frank (2013). Made in the U.S.A.: American art from the Phillips Collection 1850-1970. New Haven : Washington, D.C: Yale University Press; The Phillips Collection. ISBN 9780300196153. 
  4. ^ a b Corley, Erin (1960). A Finding Aid to the Oscar Bluemner Papers, 1886-1939. Archives of American Art. 
  5. ^ Landmarks Preservation Commission June 22, 2010, Designation List 430 LP-2388


  • Haskell, Barbara (2005). Oscar Bluemner: A Passion for Color. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art. 

Further reading[edit]

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