Gouache and pencil on paper 4 1⁄4 x 5 1⁄2 in. (108 x 140 mm), c. 1917 Detailed notes in German inscribed on verso in artist's hand.
Estate of the artist
Private collection, Irma Rudin, New Jersey
Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York, Label CA2771
Purchased May 20, 1998
Sold October 23, 1998 to Dr. Mark and Mrs. Irene Kauffman, Longboat Key, Florida
Christie’s New York, 1 March 2012 SALE 2539 Lot 60 – Fine American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture Including the Collection of Dr. Mark and Irene Kauffman [Price Realised $40,000.00]
Boca Raton Museum of Art, American Modernism: Paintings from the Dr. and Mrs. Mark S. Kauffman Collection, exhibition catalogue, Boca Raton, Florida, 2003, pp. 20-21, 68, no. 3, illustrated.
W.M. Blazier, "American Modernism from the Kauffman Collection," American Art Review, vol. XV, no. 6, December 2003, p. 154, illustrated.
Boca Raton, Florida, Boca Raton Museum of Art, and elsewhere, American Modernism: Paintings from the Dr. and Mrs. Mark S. Kauffman Collection, November 19, 2003-January 18, 2004.
Tampa, Florida, Tampa Museum of Art, American Modernism from the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Mark S. Kauffman, January 8-February 27, 2011.
The following passages were published in the 2004 catalogue accompanying the exhibition:
. . . Bluemner simplified his style into a series of regulated shapes, uniting his interests in architecture and color. He discarded his dark, tonalist palette, for brilliant reds, blues and greens, and simplified, forms. Like the precisionists, Bluemner’s subjects were industrial buildings, mostly in New Jersey, whose linearity and jagged geometric forms were activated with color.
A self-described “vermillionaire,” Bluemner believed that “color in itself is beautiful.” In 1916, he moved to New Jersey, where he painted Butter Factory, Montgomery Street, Bloomfield, New Jersey, around 1917 . As with so many of Bluemner’s small watercolor and pencil sketches, he painted from life, stopping when he found a particular view of architecture integrated into landscape or cityscape. With the eye of an architect, he captured improvisational moments in which the geometric angularities of architectural structures functioned as abstracted components within a still life of nature. Bluemner would often make extensive notes on these paintings, recording the colors, shadows, and details, as references.
On the back of Butter Factory, Bluemner wrote in German:
“Clear day. Red in the middle area, green surrounding it. The green of the trees is darker than that of the grass, blue sky and water. — The outline of the trees, especially those of the farthest trees, are square and repeat the building as well as the terrain, and even the clouds. All are triangles, either with or without ‘Stylobate’. The entire foreground space stems from these and the vertical and horizontal lines. At the same time the colors — at the top. These are based on a ‘one plane’ flat painting style and give everything a realness, their color shades. Red-green symphony on blue background give detail through brush strokes.”
Bluemner, although influenced by Cubism, worked in a unique style. He was not interested in the complex dissection and rearrangement of form, but in a simplification of reality. He painted dramatic patterns in sharp contrasts of light and shade and exaggerated cubical forms. Inner emotion motivated his work, and like Charles Burchfield, Bluemner invested an emotional intensity, romanticism and melancholy pathos in his works.
Item number: 85