watercolor and pencil on paper
5 x 7.75 inches
10.6 x 13.5 inches framed
signed with initials
with Robert C. Graham Sr., New York
Private collection, New York
By descent to previous owner
Trained as an architect in his native Germany, Oscar Bluemner immigrated to America in 1892 and soon launched an architecture firm in New York. Disillusioned with his practice by 1910, he was drawing and painting full-time and producing moody landscapes inspired by the vanguard pictures in Alfred Stieglitz's gallery 291, especially those by Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley.
In 1912 he traveled to Europe, where he was deeply affected by Kandinsky's spiritually based work and the emotive color used by Van Gogh and Gauguin. Upon returning to New York, Bluemner formulated a distinctive style comprised of architectonic forms and expressive hues.
During the late 1920s Bluemner moved to South Braintree, Massachusetts, which was a time of artistic growth and great personal turmoil. Destitute, and reeling from his wife's death the previous year, he channeled his despair into his work – many of them watercolors – featuring boldly simplified domestic structures nestled within melancholy landscape settings.
According to Bluemner's color system, which assigned physical and emotional properties to specific hues, red was of primary importance as representing "power, vitality, energy, life's passion, struggle." He regarded color as a universal language akin to music that, properly orchestrated, stirs all regions of the psyche.