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Art Environments

Collection Series

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, WI

 

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein

untitled (Marie)

(1910–1983)
c. 1943–60 35 mm color transparency
John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein

Untitled (Marie, double exposure)

(1910–1983)
c. 1943–60 gelatin silver print
John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection
 

1910–1983

Milwaukee artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein was a poet and painter from the time of his youth. His artistic nature led him to explore ceramics, photography, and many other media, and to transform the small home he shared with his wife, Marie, into a unique container for the thousands of works he made. Von Bruenchenhein painted on canvases and on the wall and ceilings of his home—inside and out. Additionally, Von Bruenchenhein made innumerable ceramic objects—crowns, flowers, beasts, and vessels—and repeatedly photographed Marie, posed as wife, ingénue, calendar girl, and more. The artist’s thoughts are recorded extensively in volumes of poetry, journals, and letters, chronicling the work he made and all that inspired it, year after year. After Von Bruenchenhein’s death, with the house in a severely deteriorated state, the Arts Center worked with his widow, Marie, to document and conserve the artist’s extensive body of work. Subsequently, and in following years, the Arts Center acquired over 600 works of art displaced from this dismantled environment, thus commencing the collection of works by vernacular environment builders.