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The Red Barn

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Documentation Ample Provenance
Origin United States
Period 1900-1919
Materials Oil on Board
Dimensions
W. 14 in; H. 17 in;
W. 35.56 cm; H. 43.18 cm;
Condition Excellent. No repairs, chipping or signs of repair--has been well cared for.
Creation Date c. 1919
Description Anyone who has seen the recent Franz Marc and August Macke retrospective at the Neue Gallery will recognize the stylistic affinities between their work and this early work by German-American artist Konrad Cramer. Kramer was one of the first artists to make abstract paintings in the United States. These works, begun in 1912, place him among approximately a dozen innovators painting abstractly at the time in Europe and the the United States. At the same time he was a link from the German to the American Avant-Garde.

Cramer was born in Germany and studied there. He saw the second exhibition of the Neue Kunstlervereinigund in Munich in 1910 and was exposed to work by Kandinsky, Jawlensky, as well as the cubist works of of Picasso and Braque. Within a year, he had seen work by Franz Marc, Gabriel Munter and other German avant-garde artists. Kandinsky and Marc began work on the Der Blaue Reiter Almanac in 1911. Cramer left for America in 1911, but he had already grasped the importance of Kandinsky and Der Blauer Reiter.

Cramer settled in Woodstock, NY with his new wife Francis Balin. He would have an outsized influence on the artists of the Woodstock Colony. Indeed, their motto became "Modern Art or Die!". Cramer would also become friendly with Alfred Stieglitz and his Gallery 291. Stieglitz was an early proponent of modernism in the United States.

Cramer began his first abstractions, called Improvisations, in 1912. The point was, as Kandinsky advocated, to eliminate the material (the objective) in the composition. Later in the decade, Cramer's work became more expressionist ala Marc and reexamined the formal issues of early modernism, especially those in the works of Cezanne. At the same time, these works embraced Kandinsky's stylistic approach: Cramer's colors are rich and bright with soft edges merging into one another in the manner of the fluid colors in the background of Kandinsky's Improvisations. "The Red Barn" is an excellent example of this work.

Cramer would never be as innovative--or important--as he was in the the decade of the 1910s. His contribution to modernism in America is significant but underlooksed.

Exhibited: "Konrad Cramer: A Retrospective", Edith C. Blum Art Institute, Milton and Sally Avery Center for the Arts, Bard College, November 1981-January 1982. Retrospective Catalogue, p. 58. Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas, Austin, 1983

Authenticated by the artist's daughter.

Martin Diamond Fine Art, Salander O'Reilly Galleries,
Styles / Movements Expressionism
Incollect Reference Number 289312
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