Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Untitled. Courtesy of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

Wisconsin’s Kohler Arts Center Acquires Thousands of Works by Eugene von Bruenchenhein

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, has acquired more than 8,300 artworks by the self-taught American artist Eugene von Bruenchenhein (1910–1983). The collection, which comprises paintings, sculptures, ceramics, drawings, slides, and photographs that span the entirety of von Bruenchenhein’s career, join the more than six thousand objects by him that are already in the center’s holdings.

“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 the Kohler Arts Center in the wonderful home where it truly belongs,” said Lewis Greenblatt, the owner of the artist’s estate. “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.”

Despite the artist’s prolific output, many of his works weren’t discovered until his death in 1983, at which time he had several thousand stored at his small residence in Milwaukee. According to the New York Times, von Bruenchenhein’s friend, Daniel Nycz, alerted Russell Bowman, who was director of the Milwaukee Art Museum at the time, to the trove of works. Since then, von Bruenchenhein’s pieces have been featured in several major exhibitions, including a 2010 retrospective at the American Folk Art Museum in New York and “Outliers and American Vanguard Art” (2018) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

The Kohler is currently organizing an exhibition that will showcase the newly acquired works at the Art Preserve, a facility dedicated to artist-built environments that is slated to open in 2020.