Eugene Von Bruenchenhein


Few who knew him suspected that Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910-1983), a commercial bakery worker, was at home an intense and prolific artist. Making apocalyptic paintings, sculptures from clay and chicken bones, and erotic photographs of his wife, Marie, Von Bruenchenhein packed his small house in Milwaukee with the fruits of his aesthetic labors, but never showed them.

At his death, he left thousands of works. A core collection was acquired by the Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wis., and many more have gradually trickled out to dealers. A dabbler before he became a serious painter in 1954, Von Bruenchenhein used his fingers, bakers’ tools, even strands of his wife’s hair to get pigment on canvas. At first his fervent imagery tended toward the big bang, as in « Atomic Age » (1955), depicting the atmospheric inferno of a nuclear explosion.