Eugene Von Bruenchenhein: Mythologies

by: John Michael Kohler Arts Center

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Eugene Von Bruenchenhein: Mythologies / ISBN 9780998681702 / 248-page hardcover, about 9 x 11 inches / published by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center

I know I featured this artist over the years, probably misspelling his name twenty different ways.

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From the 1930s until his death in 1983, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein was a prolific artist, producing paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings and poetry in his small Milwaukee home.

His large and unusual body of work was unknown to anyone except his closest family and friends until after his death; he is now deservedly considered, according to Roberta Smith, “among the great American outsider artists.”

Von Bruenchenhein’s first creative venture was to photograph his wife, Marie. In the 1950s, he began painting surreal subjects, ranging from atomic mushrooms to mythical creatures and futuristic metropolises. Further evidence of his personal mythologies is found in his sculptures: elaborate chairs constructed out of chicken bones, ceramic and metal crowns, sensor pots made out of leaves and plant forms.

After Von Bruenchenhein’s death, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center began cataloguing and photographing his work. Mythologies emerges out of this research, exploring Von Bruenchenhein’s art, the people and contexts that spurred his imagination, and his creative legacy.