The world-in-a-grain-of-sand quality of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s work comes not from the work itselfit is expansive to the point of interstellarbut from our sense of the contrast between his art and his life. Born in 1910, he lived with his wifeEvelyn, but he called her Mariein a small house in Milwaukee; had a job making doughnuts in a bakery; retired at the age of forty-nine, with a health problem contracted through years of working with flour (a baker’s equivalent of the miner’s black lung); lived into his early seventies, on very little money; and meanwhile filled his home with art, self-made, never less than ingenious, and often gorgeous. The catalogue accompanying this show includes a photo of that little house: But for the fact that Von Bruenchenhein had painted the outside walls in several different colors, it’s modest and undistinguished, and
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