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Kohler Arts Center Acquires Von Bruenchenhein Estate

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The John Michael Kohler Arts Center has announced the acquisition of a major collection of work by self-taught artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910–1983). More than 8,300 pieces, from Von Bruenchenhein’s estate, span the entire range of the artist’s work – from paintings and sculpture to slides and photographs – and join the 6,000 Von Bruenchenhein objects already held in the JMKAC collection.

John Michael Kohler Arts Center
608 New York Ave, Sheboygan, WI 53081
www.jmkac.org

 

From JMKAC's Press Release:

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center announced today the acquisition of a major collection of
work by self-taught artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910–1983). The more than 8,300 pieces,
which come to the Arts Center’s from Von Bruenchenhein’s estate, span the entire range of the
artist’s subject matter—from paintings and sculpture to slides and photographs.
“We are honored to receive this astounding collection of work thanks to the generosity of Lewis
Greenblatt, owner of the artist’s estate, and through the exceptional support of Kohler
Foundation Inc.,” said Sam Gappmayer, Arts Center director.
The collection represents the remaining materials from the Von Bruenchenhein estate and joins
the 6,000 Von Bruenchenhein objects already held in the JMKAC collection. Newly acquired
works include fowl-bone sculptures, concrete sculptures, paintings, and metal and ceramic
crowns. Also included are nearly 7,000 photographs and more than 1,000 photographic
transparencies.
“I am delighted to have worked with Karen Patterson at the Kohler Arts Center and Terri Yoho
at the Kohler Foundation in placing my collection of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s art work with

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the Kohler Arts Center in the wonderful home where it truly belongs,” said Greenblatt. “Karen’s
dedication and love of the work was instrumental in my decision making. Karen’s curation of the
Von Bruenchenhein show entitled Mythologies at the Kohler Arts Center was magnificent and
without peer to any EVB exhibition ever done….I will miss the work, but know that it is in good
hands.”
With this acquisition, a substantial amount of the artist’s work is now united—providing an
opportunity to illustrate the artist-built environment that Von Bruenchenhein created and lived in
at his home in West Allis, Wisconsin. An evocation of his artist-built environment will be
featured at the Arts Center’s new Art Preserve when it opens in early fall 2020.
The Art Preserve will be the world’s first facility entirely devoted to artist-built environments, a
unique art form created by artists who transform their homes, yards, or other spaces into
multifaceted works of art. The Art Preserve complements the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s
location in downtown Sheboygan, which will continue to be the main venue for Arts Center
exhibitions, performances and other programs.
With a collecting history that began with the purchase of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein works in
1983, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is the leading institution for the study and
presentation of artist-built environments. The Arts Center’s collection of works from artist-built
environments now includes approximately 25,000 works of art and archival materials from more
than 30 sites.
In addition to the Von Bruenchenhein estate, the Arts Center has also recently acquired a
concrete mask by Eddie Owens Martin and an untitled animal figurine by Charlie Willetto. Both
works were gifted by Kohler Foundation Inc.