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Lot 201: Oscar Florianus Bluemner (1867-1938)
IMPORTANT AMERICAN PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS AND SCULPTURE
December 5, 2002
New York, NY, USA
Description: In Low Key signed 'Bluemner' (lower left)-- signed, inscribed with title and dated on a label affixed to reverse oil on panel 231/2 x 331/2 in. (59.7 x 85.1 cm.) PROVENANCE Robert and Vera Bluemner. Monique Knowlton, New York, circa 1965. Harvey and Francoise Rambach, New Jersey, 1981. Private collection. Gerald Peters Gallery, New York. LITERATURE J. Hayes, Oscar Bluemner, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1991, no. 103, p. 154, illustrated EXHIBITION New York, Marie Herriman Gallery, New Landscapes by Oscar F. Bluemner: Compositions for Color Themes, June 2-26, 1935, no. 8 Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minneapolis University Gallery, Oscar Bluemner Retrospective, 1939, no. 19 New York, Andrew Crispo Gallery, Pioneers of American Abstraction, 1973, no. 10 New York, Monique Knowlton Gallery, Oscar Bluemner, Marsden Hartley Landscapes, 1978 New York, Barbara Mathes Gallery, Oscar Bluemner: A Retrospective Exhibition, March 9-April 27, 1985 Washington, D.C., The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Oscar Bluemner: Landscapes of Sorrow and Joy, December 10, 1988-February 19, 1989 NOTES Executed in 1932. "Imagination is the touch-stone of genius; it opens the visions of new worlds of the explorer, scientist, philosopher, - the 'red empire of Africa' of Rhodes, the 'red' superman of Nietszche, the 'red' symphonies of Brahms, the 'red' dreams of a Chinese poet, and the red mountain of a Tang painter. Only a profound and imaginative outlook can enable the artist to create a new painting, that is to create new beauty, vital possibilities of significant color. Without imagination painting fails of its greatest power and beauty." (Oscar Bluemner, "What and When is Painting? Today," in Oscar Bluemner, 1867-1938, New York, 1969) This passage, excerpted from an essay Bluemner wrote in 1929, is evidence of his radical and reflective outlook on painting. Known widely for his bold use of color, Oscar Bluemner also produced works, In Low Key among them, that "demonstrate the full range of his palette. Strong contrasts rather than intense color characterize In Low Key, a painting of 'Nights in Towns' when 'the sides of objects faintly emerge...[from] deep luminous black.' Red survives here, but its subdued, vaporous quality imparts more melancholy than egotism. The central building - caught between the flexed brilliance of a steely tree limb and the nervous entreaties of dark olive, fingerlike foliage ('all shapes are human') - appears autobiographical. It profiles the often painful choice between self-realization and responding to the needs of others." (Jeffrey R. Hayes, "Oscar Bluemner - Romantic Modern," in Oscar Bluemner: A Retrospective Exhibition, New York, 1985).