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Ruth DeYoung Kohler II at Klessig farm in WI in 1969.

Ruth DeYoung Kohler II (1941-2020)

The American philanthropist and arts administrator Ruth DeYoung Kohler II died at her home in Kohler, Wisconsin, on November 14, 2020, at the age of 79. She was a scion of the family that, in 1873, founded Kohler Co., a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of kitchen and bathroom fixtures, and other products.

Among her many achievements in the field of culture, Ruth was best known for having served, from 1972 to 2016, as the director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, an institution whose programming highlights the creations of self-taught artists, with a focus on site-specific art environments. During her tenure as the JMKAC’s director, the museum’s collection expanded to include some 25,000 works produced by more than 30 creators of art environments.

From 1969 to 2019, Ruth served on the board of the Kohler Foundation, Inc., a philanthropic organisation with close ties to the Kohler family and its privately held company, of which she was a major shareholder. Ruth served as the foundation’s president from 1999 to 2006. A principal benefactor of the JMKAC, the foundation helps fund the conservation and preservation of art environments.

After attending a private girls’ school near Chicago, Kohler earned a bachelor of arts degree from Smith College in Massachusetts. Later, she studied at the University of Wisconsin and also in Germany. After briefly teaching art in Wisconsin public schools, she established a printmaking programme at the University of Alberta-Calgary. Then Ruth spent time in Spain, examining vernacular art forms and visiting Paleolithic-art sites.

After stepping down as the JMKAC’s director and becoming its director emerita, Ruth focused her attention on the design and construction of its new Art Preserve building. Scheduled to open in Sheboygan in June 2021, this new facility will feature visible-storage galleries showcasing the museum’s holdings.

Recalling Ruth DeYoung Kohler II’s long career, Debra Kerr, the president and chief executive officer of Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, in Chicago, told Raw Vision, “Ruth’s vision was bold, prescient and uncompromising. Under her influence, the JMKAC became a prominent force in the study and presentation of the works of often ignored self-taught and outsider artists. She brought much-deserved attention to such important artists as Albert Zahn, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein and Mary Nohl through world-class exhibitions and scholarship.”

Jo Farb Hernández, the former director of SPACES Archives, a California-based organisation that documented site-specific art environments and whose materials are now held by the Kohler Foundation in Kohler, Wisconsin, said, “Ruth used to recount how her father would bundle the family into a big, old Packard convertible and drive around the Wisconsin countryside. They visited unusual displays of the kind we have come to describe as art environments. She developed an interest in these compelling shrines, private museums, and yard shows as a young girl and maintained this interest as she grew up and became more conversant in the language of art.”

Lisa Stone, the former director of the Roger Brown Study Collection of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, said, “It’s interesting to contemplate Ruth DeYoung Kohler II alongside Dominique de Menil and her husband John [the founders of the Menil Collection, a modern-art museum in Houston, Texas] in terms of their collecting, [which was] grounded in their deep belief in art and artists.” All of these visionary collectors, Stone noted, created places specifically designed for the art they championed.

Edward M. Gómez
Senior Editor
Raw Vision

BILL TRAYLOR (CIRCA 1853-1949) Two Dogs Fighting; Man Chasing Dog, 1939-1942 
tempera, graphite and colored pencils on white paper-faced card 18x25in.

Outsider and Vernacular Art
21 January 2021 at 10.00 am

Christie’s upcoming Outsider and Vernacular Art auction features masterpieces by the category’s top artists as well as significant works by up-and-coming names in the field.

The sale is led by multiple drawings by iconic artist Bill Traylor, Untitled (Tunnels and Train) by Martin Ramirez, and a number of important constructions by Thornton Dial. Highlights also include a selection of works by European and Asian artists such as Carlo Zinelli and Hiroyuki Doi, as well as remarkable pieces by American artists including Minnie Evans, Clementine Hunter, Elijah Pierce, AG Rizzoli, Nellie Mae Rowe and Judith Scott.

This sale includes selections from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation, sold to benefit the Foundation and the Harlem Children’s Zone.  

20 Rockefeller Plaza New York, NY 10020

Viewing is by appointment only, 15-21 January.
To make an appointment and for more information, please visit christies.com or contact:

Cecilia Cascella
[email protected]
212 636 2230

Marie Suzuki

Tokyo Shibuya Koendori Gallery, Tokyo
September 5 – December 6, 2020

This new, non-profit art space located in one of Tokyo’s most popular commercial districts opened earlier this year, only to see its activities suspended during the long stay-at-home period prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Now active again, this venue, which is sponsored by the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, and managed in collaboration with curatorial specialists from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, has returned to its mission of promoting the work of self-taught Japanese and foreign artists.

Featuring works by 16 Japanese artists, plus the Americans Mr. Imagination and C. J. Pyle, this exhibition, like all of this new venue’s programming, offered local viewers an opportunity to deepen their understanding of what is still a relatively new phenomenon in Japan — art brut and, related to it, more broadly, outsider art — while situating the work of inventive self-taught artists within the widder context of the contemporary-art scene.

Among the works on view, Yoshihiro Watanabe’s tiny animal figures sculpted from folded leaves of the sawtooth oak tree were only a few centimeters tall; with his breath, the artist moistens the leaves before skillfully folding them into the abstracted shapes of horses, elephants, and dogs. Shota Katsube also works on a minuscule scale; on display were his remarkably expressive warrior figures crafted from colourful, metallic-foil twist ties collected from plastic bags.

Drawing in plain pencil on the backs of printed-paper advertising flyers, Shogo Harazuka produced detailed, aerial views of sprawling cities, whose rollicking, expansive perspectives brought to mind those of certain kinds of ancient, East Asian ink-wash paintings.  Sekio Minobe’s gentle geometric abstractions in coloured ink on paper suggested affinities with certain strains of classic modern art, while Toshio Okamoto’s expressionistic human figures in jet-black India ink, each one a monumental presence, seemed to burst out beyond the confines of the sheets of paper on which they were drawn.

Judiciously selected and imaginatively installed, In A Sky Full Of Shining Stars was an exhibition that really helped put a new venue on the map of Tokyo’s vibrant art scene.

Edward M. Gómez
Senior Editor
Raw Vision

Untitled (34), John Maull (n.d). Coloured pencil and pen on paper, 18 x 24 in. / 46 x 61 cm

The Jennifer Lauren Gallery is pleased to announce the launch of a new virtual exhibition, "Evolving Echoing Entities", available to view online now.

This new online exhibition offers the viewer a chance to discover the inner voice of eight self-taught artists from around the world – from loud splashes of colour, to hummed repetitive strokes, to hushed delicate marks.

As many of these artists have varying verbal abilities, their choice of marks and the process behind each and every detail made, conveys a meaning, telling us a story.

The eight artists are: John Black from Garvald in Edinburgh, Éric Derochette from La ‘S’ Grand Atelier in Belgium, Robert Fischer from Geyso20 in Germany, Sher’ron Freeman from Creative Growth in California, Joe Goldman from Project Art Works in Hastings, Nnena Kalu from ActionSpace in London, Judy Lopez from the ECF Art Centers in Los Angeles and John Maull from Tierra del Sol Studios in Los Angeles.

View the exhibition at jenniferlaurengallery.com.

No. 535, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1957). Oil on masonite, 24 x 24 in.

Andrew Edlin Gallery: Eugene Von Bruenchenhein: Phantasmagorical Paintings 1957–61
Through January 23, 2021

The Andrew Edlin Gallery presents an exhibition of the work of self-taught artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910–1983).

"Eugene Von Bruenchenhein: Phantasmagorical Paintings 1957–61" features twelve works, six of which were exhibited in The Encyclopedic Palace (2013) as part of the 55th Venice Biennale.

Employed for most of his life as a baker in a suburban enclave of Milwaukee, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910-1983) devoted his off hours to creating a dizzying array of ceramics, paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures, which stuffed the modest home that he shared with his beloved wife, Marie.

Despite his best efforts to gain recognition (including, somewhat misguidedly, sending letters of entreaty to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson), he remained completely unknown until after his death.

Learn more about the artist and see more of his amazing spectral artworks at www.edlingallery.com/exhibitions.