Monday, October 29, 2012

In His Own Words: An American Artist Studies in France -- Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969)

Born in Sacramento, California, Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969) was the 3rd child of the master grainer (coach painter) for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Oldfield left school in 1906, to apprentice at a local print shop. Restless, he boarded a train & job-hopped from California to Nevada & Montana & Idaho. He then enrolled in Best's Art School, San Francisco in 1909, working nights as a bellhop to support himself. He left for Paris in 1910, where he studied in for 15 years, attending the Julian Academy, Rue Fromentin.

Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969) The Artist and His Wife

Of his arrival in Paris, he said, “Well, I noticed on the sign there, it had been Bouguereau’s Academy at one time. But at the time I was there, Tony Robert-Fleury was the master there. He’d come in once a week. And it was very funny, when the master came in the word with him was “silence” and we had to be very quiet. He would never go to anyone except those who had worked with him for a while and then we would group around him and listen…”

Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969) White Dress 1936

Early on, Fleury reviewed Oldfield’s work, “At that time I was new there and I had to have an interpreter. The master just looked me over, and then he looked at the painting and he said, “All right, you’re an artist.” I felt it was very nice afterward when I thought about it…”

Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969) Telegraph Hill

“Tony Robert-Fleury, was , he had gone into Impressionism, and we were taught in that manner. You see, you get taught in a certain manner and I think that stays with you. You can try to get in or out of it, but what you have is kind of stamped there. ..

Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969) The Yellow Dress 1929

“We didn’t pay the master, we paid the fee, and I think it was, you give it by six months or you give it by the year. As I remember it now, the first six months they advised me to take it that way, I paid twenty-eight dollars.”

Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969)

“We went to work at eight o’clock in the morning and we worked all through the week until five, Saturday included. Then in the evening we’d go from five to seven, quick sketching, we’d pay for that, it cost a franc – twenty cents. Then after that we’d meet at somebody’s studio and talk a little bit, and then we’d go out and find a cheap restaurant and eat there…And then free night school, we went three times a week with only a male model, and during that time we would go to night school until eleven o’clock…And Sunday we’d take a streetcar ride with our paint boxes and go out to Meudon, or some place at the end of the line, you know, and sit down and paint – the group of us – you know. And we’d take a little lunch or we’d stop at one of those bistros and have something…”

Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969) Purple Sweater 1933

“…at first I was with four boys. We rented a studio, and then that got too expensive so we took a little flat next door that had two rooms. And so we divided up that way, and we would cook our meals sometimes….that’s where we slept and where we worked and where we were at home. But as I say, if the weather was good, we took the streetcar for a ride. You could ride pretty far and pretty long for the fee that they took. Of course we visited all the places around there, like Rodin’s [Auguste Rodin] place [Villa des Brillants, Meudon, France] and whatnot, I mean we were interested in their work.”

Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969) Little Four-Year-Old Girl

“… the Louvre on our Sundays, that was sort of a ritual, see, if it was bad weather we went to museums and we’d just stay pretty near the whole day there…And then we would go to the Luxembourg and see what was there, because in there it’s the living artists, you see. When they’re dead they go into the Louvre. And then of course there were the trips across the water. We were from Montmartre, you see we were Montmartrois, and we’d go and see the boys over in the Latin Quarter side…Although none of us had much money, we were young, we could do a lot of things that you can’t do otherwise, unless you’re young and can do it that way.”

Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969) the-The Bluff of Telegraph Hill

Upon returning to the U.S., Oldfield settled briefly Sacramento before returning to San Francisco to accept a post as a teacher at the California School of Fine Art. Oldfield developed a bold modernist style. He married artist Helen Clark who often modeled for him. In 1936, Oldfield was one of a group of San Francisco artists chosen for a WPA project to paint murals in San Francisco’s Coit Tower. Following WW II, Oldfield taught at the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland. He died in San Francisco in 1969.

Otis William Oldfield (1890–1969) The Pink Dress 1935

Oral history interview with Otis Oldfield, 1965 May 21, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

German Painter Otto Franz Scholderer 1834-1902

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) Frau Luise Philippine Conradine Steuerwaldt Scholderer am Frühstückstisch 1872-3

Otto Scholderer's portraits are somehow calming. Although he painted landscapes & still lifes of flowers, these are a few of his portraits of women. These are women simply doing what they have to do with no melodrama, but they are thinking about it.

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) Girl Cutting Flowers

Otto Franz Scholderer (1834-1902) was born in Frankfurt am Main. He was the son of Johann Christoph Scholderer and Emilie Kiefhaber.  He studied at the Städel academy of arts 1849-51. Among his teachers was painter Jakob Becker. Scholderer established himself in Städel as a freelance painter. During this period, his friendship with Victor Müller began. Scholderer became his brother-in-law in 1868.

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) The Letter

Müller acquainted Scholderer with the works of Gustave Courbet. Scholderer made several short study trips to Paris between 1857-58, where he became friends with Henri Fantin-Latour & Édouard Manet, who influenced work. Fantin-Latour depicted Scholderer in his picture Studio aux Batignolles.

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) Großes Stilleben mit junger Frau

Beginning in 1858, the 24-year-old Scholderer worked & lived predominantly in Kronberg, where his colleagues included Anton Burger, Peter Burnitz & Louis Eysen.

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) On the Ottoman, Portrait of the artist's wife Luise Philippine Conradine Steuerwaldt

In 1866, Scholderer established himself in Düsseldorf & made friends with Hans Thoma. With Thoma, Scholderer went in 1868 to Paris & returned to Germany only shortly before the outbreak of the French-German War.

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) The Flower Arrangement

Once back in Germany, Scholderer established himself in Munich, renewing his friendship with Wilhelm Leibl & becoming one of the artists of the Leibl-Kreis (Leibl circle).

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) The Artist's Neice Lucy 1899

At the beginning of 1871 he went to London. Otto Franz Scholderer married, at age 38, Luise Philippine Conradine Steuerwaldt, age 34, in 1872 at Roehampton, Wandsworth District, County of Surrey, England. Two years later, they had a son Victor.  The artist worked there till the autumn of 1899, when Scholderer returned to his hometown of Frankfurt, where he died at the age of 68 early in 1902.

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) Gemüseverkäuferin 1880

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) Luise Philippine Conradine Steuerwaldt, the artist's wife 1873

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) Woman Knitting

Otto Franz Scholderer (German painter, 1834-1902) Bildnis der Ehefrau Luise Philippine Conradine Steuerwaldt Scholderer, lesend auf der Ottomane. 1895

Otto Franz Scholder (German artist, 1834-1902) Self Portrait 1861

Self-Taught Southern African American Artist Lonnie Holley b 1950

Lonnie Bradley Holley, sometimes known as The Sand Man, is an African American artist & art educator.

Holley began his artistic life in 1979, by carving tombstones for his sister's two children who died in a house fire. He used blocks of a soft sandstone-like by-product of metal casting which was discarded in piles by a foundry near his sister's house. He believes that divine intervention led him to the material & inspired his artwork.

Inspired to create, Holley made other carvings & assembled them in his yard along with various found objects. In 1981, he brought a few examples of his sandstone carvings to Birmingham Museum of Art director Richard Murray.

Murray introduced him to the organizers of the 1981 exhibition "More Than Land & Sky: Art from Appalachia" at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Soon his work was being acquired by other institutions, such as the American Folk Art Museum in New York & the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. His work has also been displayed at the White House and in Birmingham, England.

By the mid-1980s, his work had diversified to include paintings & recycled found-object sculptures. His yard & adjacent abandoned lots near his home became an immersive art environment that was celebrated by visitors from the art world, but plundered by scrap-metal scavengers & eventually threatened by the expansion of the Birmingham International Airport.

In late 1996, Holley was notified that his hilltop property near the airport would be condemned. He rejected the airport authority's offer to buy the property at the market rate of $14,000, knowing that his site-specific installation had personal & artistic value, he demanded $250,000. The dispute went to probate court; & in 1997, a settlement was reached & the airport authority paid $165,700 to move Holley's family & work to a larger property in Harpersville, Alabama.