Distinguished Artist Series
The Life and Art of Karl Baumann
by Lauri Hoffman, Curator
When paper became scarce, Baumann's focus switched to plants and animals. His grandfather had a canary, terrariums, flowering plants, and aquariums with goidfish. Karl cherished the walks that he took with his grandfather in the nearby forests. From such excursions, Karl collected rocks and wood and learned the names of the trees. Years later, Baumann would surround himself in his studio with aquariums, exotic plants, rocks, wood, and shells collected during his treks through Golden Gate Park and along the beach (Still Life with Seashell, 1956, and "Studio Still Life, " 1950). For Baumann, nature and peace were synonymous and this concept formed the basis of a philosophy that would remain with him throughout his life.
When Karl was six years old, he was taken into the custody of a wealthy aunt and uncle who felt that they could provide a more adequate lifestyle. Karl quickly learned the superiority of love over materialism and wealth. Although his aunt and uncle were kind to him, it was their financial status rather than love that obliged them to care for their nephew. A staunch businessman, Uncle Anton kept a detailed report of Karl's expenses. Whether or not he ever sent Willie Baumann the bill is not known, Karl was uncomfortable in this environment. He felt badly that he was entitled to plenty of good food while his grandparents barely had enough to eat. On several occasions, he ran away to be with his beloved grandparents. Shortly after the war, Uncle Anton died and Karl was returned to his grandparents.
Above RIght: Untitled (Railroad), 1938, watercolor, 22 1/2 x 31 inches
This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 10/28/11
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