Konrad Cramer


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Painter. Among the first Americans to paint abstract works, he lost his radical edge by about 1920. Subsequently, Cramer painted landscapes and still lifes that continue a modern preference for simplified and sometimes faceted forms. He also created whimsical collages and several views of gas stations, at that time infrequent subjects. In the 1930s, with the encouragement of Alfred Stieglitz, he turned largely to photography. Born in Würzburg, Germany, he trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe before moving to Munich in 1910. There he knew Franz Marc and may have been acquainted with Kandinsky during the period just before the Blue Rider group coalesced. In 1911 he emigrated to the United States. At that time he favored compositions combining enigmatic symbols. Within a year or two, he had turned to abstractions suggesting Kandinsky's turbulence and chromatic intensity but without his elegance or complexity. Shooting linear elements and unbounded color areas characterize Strife (Hirshhorn Museum, c. 1912). Others of Cramer's abstractions demonstrate an interest in cubism. An early resident and active participant in the Woodstock art colony, he died there. His wife, Florence Ballin Cramer (1884–1962), painted sensitively drawn figurative works indebted to modernist simplification of form. She also created landscapes and still lifes. A native New Yorker, she met her husband in Munich.

Subjects: Art.

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