Oscar Bluemner (1867 – 1938)
Born near Hanover, Germany, Oscar Bluemner had originally planned to follow the architectural careers of his father and grandfather. In the early 1880s, Bluemner attended the Royal Academy of Design in Berlin, where he studied painting and architecture. He then traveled to Chicago to work as a freelance draftsman at the World’s Columbian Exposition and from there moved to New York.
In 1900, Bluemner’s design was selected for the Bronx Borough Courthouse but his partner stole the commission from him and received the initial credit. He eventually won the resulting lawsuit but, by then, had moved on from architecture to painting. Bluemner initially embraced impressionism with an urban subject matter, like the works of Maurice Prendergast. This changed after a trip to Europe, where Bluemner became enamored by the geometric styles reflected in Cubism and Futurism.
Despite the positive critical response to his works, sales were not strong during most of Bluemner’s career. As his financial troubles continued, Bluemner suffered increasing poverty and poor health, becoming incredibly depressed in his later years.