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Series 4 | A Finding Aid to the Oscar Bluemner papers, 1886-1939, 1960 | Digitized Collection

Oscar Bluemner papers, 1886-1939, 1960

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Series 4: Writings & Notes, 1891-1892, 1909-1937
2.2 linear feet
Box 2-4, 8

Found in this series are Oscar Bluemner's extensive writings and notes about his paintings and techniques, and his views on art history and art theory. Included are various lists, essays, notes, and notebooks, many of which also include sketches and color illustrations as well as printed material which Bluemner attached to his notes.
Among the writings is Bluemner's "List of New Sketches and Notes for New Work" in which he recorded his paintings from the early 1930s. Each painting is documented with a record number, date, and sketch, along with detailed notes on the color and composition. There are additional lists of works of art, all written by Bluemner, including a list of his works in a Bourgeois Gallery show in 1921. Also found here are writings for publications and lectures including a "Foreword" for an unidentified publication and an essay for a 1927 Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition catalog, titled "A Painter's Comment", which he annotated at a later date.
This series also includes a group of notes and homemade notebooks on Bluemner's painting techniques, many of which he identified as "Easel Notes" because he kept them in his studio as painting manuals. The notes discuss materials and techniques for watercolor, oil painting, and casein painting, and procedures for framing and shipping his works. Also found within the notes are Bluemner's theories, instructions, formulas, illustrations, and material samples.
Bluemner's writings include his notes about artwork by other artists and paintings and artwork in museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He created four volumes of notes taken during a tour of Europe in 1912, all of which are dated and arranged by European city. Many of the notes include detailed sketches.
Bluemner maintained extensive notes on Chinese and Japanese art history and styles. Included among these notes are annotated clippings and reproductions, as well as sketches, drawings, and watercolors of paintings he had seen in books and at museums. Additional annotated books & catalogs are found in Series 5.
This series contains a large collection of interesting and complicated notes Bluemner described as "criteria for new work extracted from all note-folios for a book on painting." He pulled notes from his diaries, procedure and easel notes, lists, etc. and reorganized them around 1934. The notes document many of his complex art theories including the concept of "Ponere" which he defined as "to pose, to place in a space", and this term is used throughout his writings. Also discussed are line, space, materials, sources for paintings, and color theory. They include prose, lists, sketches and illustrations, color and material samples, and news clippings. He often used complicated color coding, abbreviations, and symbols to organize his ideas. Of particular interest among the notes is Bluemner's "Pocket Book on New Work" written in 1934 ( Box 3, folder 27) as a "compendium of all folios written." Some of these notes are in German and Latin.
Writings and notes are arranged according to Bluemner's original arrangement. Folder titles in quotation marks are Bluemner's original titles for his writings; titles in brackets were created by the archivist. Most of the categories of material are preceded by an envelope, originally containing the items, on which Bluemner wrote a title for the contents, dates, and extensive notes. Additional envelopes are found in the last folder of this series and include envelopes with a note stating that the contents were destroyed in 1936. It is believed, based on notes on the envelopes, that Bluemner rearranged these papers and removed certain items while he was preparing to give them to John Davis Hatch. Every attempt has been made to keep the pages in Bluemner's original order.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.