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Oscar Bluemner papers, 1886-1939

More Information

Erin Corley
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter Oscar Bluemner date from 1886 to 1939, with one item from 1960, and measure 6.9 linear feet. The collection documents Bluemner's career through scattered biographical material and personal and professional correspondence. Almost one-half of the collection consists of Bluemner's extensive writings and notes about his artwork, painting techniques, and art theory in the form of diaries, notebooks, lists, essays, and notes - many of which are also illustrated. Also found are annotated books, exhibition catalogs, newsclippings, artwork and sketches by Bluemner, and photographs of Bluemner's artwork and of architecture. Bluemner's work in architecture is documented to a lesser degree through scattered licenses, photographs, and design drawings.
Biographical material is scattered and includes autobiographical writings, a list of published works, an essay for a Guggenheim fellowship application, certificates, legal documents, and membership records. Also of note are detailed technical diagrams of his studio easel. The small amount of correspondence in this collection is with family, friends, artists, art galleries and museums, art collectors and patons, and others. Notable correspondents include Stephan Bourgeois, Edward Bruce, Ernest Fiene, Arnold Friedman, Stefan Hirsch, Walter Hochschild, Margaret Lewisohn, Aline Liebman, George Ferdinand Of, Albert Rothbart, Alfred Stieglitz, and Ludwig Vogelstein.
Bluemner' extensive writings about his painting techniques and theories, and art history and criticism are found in painting and theory diaries, notebooks, notes, lists of artwork, essays, and writings for publication. Painting Diaries contain Bluemner's handwritten notes about newly-completed paintings and current work. Theory Diaries contain his notes on art theory. Both sets of diaries contain many color illustrations and sketches. Also of particular interest are Bluemner's notes and homemade notebooks on techniques which he often called "Easel Notes." Also found are notes on paintings he viewed in American art collections and four volumes of notes taken during his tour of Europe in 1912. Bluemner also maintained extensive notes on Chinese and Japanese art history and styles. Additional writings include a collection of notes he compiled and organized from his other diaries, notebooks, and writings for a book on painting.
Bluemner's papers also contain books and exhibition catalogs annotated with his notes and illustrations - many of which are on the subject of Chinese and Japanese art. Art motif and travel sketches contain motifs and artwork that Bluemner developed into themes for his paintings. Most of the travel sketches are of towns in New Jersey, but also include sketches and notes on Italy, which he visited in 1912. There is also a small sketchbook and drawings of buildings Bluemner designed.
Printed material includes exhibition catalogs and announcements, some of which are annotated with prices and additional information, as well as news and magazine clippings, and prints of published writings by Bluemner. Photographs found in the collection include three photographs of buildings Bluemner designed, photographs of artwork, one print of Bluemner, and negatives.
The material on reel N737 was lent by Graham Gallery in 1968. The rest of the collection was donated between 1970-1985 by John David Hatch, a close friend of Bluemner and an art historian.
Separated Material
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming on reel N737. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Related Material
Also found in the Archives of American Art is the John Davis Hatch papers, 1790-1995, which include correspondence, printed material, and research files regarding Oscar Bluemner.
Additional Oscar Bluemner materials are available at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, and within the Vera Bluemner Kouba Collection, Stetson University, Deland, Florida.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Processing Information
Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing at some point after donation. The collection was microfilmed in the order in which it was received on reels 338-344 except for the last donation which was not microfilmed. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Erin Corley and digitized in 2008 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.