Oscar F. Bluemner
Pagoda (Red Tank West Quincy), 1922–27
Oil on board
15 by 20 inches
Signed Bluemner lower left
Bluemner was an architect in Chicago and New York before pursuing a career as an artist in 1912 at the age of 45. Around this time he met photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, who gave Bluemner his first one-man exhibition in 1915. Despite this burgeoning success, Bluemner was anxious to leave New York and moved to New Jersey the following year. His isolation from New York allowed Bluemner to delve deeply into his ideas about the expressive and emotive power of color, which he recorded in the densely written diaries of painting and theory he kept throughout his life. He devoted at least nine pages to the composition and coloration of Pagoda (Red Tank West Quincy). The work marks a challenging period in Bluemner’s career. He addressed the same subject in a full-size watercolor study and began Pagoda in 1922, but left it unfinished. He stopped painting in oil for four years, moved to South Braintree, Massachusetts, and resumed painting in oil with renewed energy and fervor, finally completing Pagoda in 1927.