Finding: Source Material in the Archives of American Art

Oscar Bluemner

Oscar Bluemner was known for his vibrantly hued paintings of rural and industrial landscapes. Deeply engaged with color theory, he fervently described nuances of shadows and hues in his painting diaries and preparatory notes. Bluemner’s source files, organized by “art motifs,” often informed his paintings.

Shown here are materials concerning the aesthetics of snow gathered by Bluemner in New Jersey. Bluemner jotted down observations and sketches onto loose pieces of paper and newspaper clippings. Together they show how the artist came to understand the shadows and coloring of snow, especially the ways in which it absorbs and reflects light from the sky and nearby structures. “The lower sky is a beautiful pale turquoise blue making the white snow grow,” he observed. Many annotations are written in German, Bluemner’s native language.