Bauhaus on the Swan

Elise Blumann, an emigre artist in Western Australia, 1938-1948

By Sally Quin

German artist Elise Blumann (1897-1990) arrived in Western Australia in 1938, having fled Nazi Germany in 1934. With her husband and two sons, she set up home on the banks of the Swan River, and began to paint. Over the next ten years, she produced a series of portraits set against the river and the Indian Ocean, and pursued an analysis of plant forms - the zamia palm, xanthorrhoea, banksia, and the majestic melaleuca - to brilliant effect. This study traces Blumann's formative student years in Berlin and her first decade in Australia, where the artist reinvented her working method in response to the intense light and color of the local landscape. The challenges presented by this new physical environment resulted in bold and evocative interpretations of the land. Blumann was a conservative modernist, but the Perth art scene was not prepared for her expressive style, and when she exhibited for the first time in 1944, her art was met with bewilderment. The book considers attitudes to modernism in Perth, as well as the influence on local culture of European refugees and emigres newly arrived in the city. Working in relative isolation and with little critical support, Elise Blumann produced a striking body of work, which prefigured a flourishing of progressive art in Perth from the late 1940s. As the first major art historical study of the painter, the book establishes Blumann as a significant figure in the story of Australian modernism. It features over 150 works by Blumann, as well as many photographs from the artist's life. *** "Replete with flawlessly reproduced images of the artist's work enhanced with an informed and informative commentary...very highly recommended for personal and academic library 20th Century Art History reference collections..." -- Midwest Book Review, Reviewer's Bookwatch: November 2015, Margaret's Bookshelf [Subject: Art, Art History, Australian Studies]

Publication Date: 10/28/2015
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781742585987