Print exhibition honors the 2005 gift of 91 works by the artist and examines his career
“Baumann produced exceptional color woodcuts, traveling widely in search of novel subjects,” said Jane Glaubinger, retired curator of prints. “Mesmerized by the stunning scenery of the Southwest, he depicted shimmering golden aspens, the dramatic light effects and exquisite colors of the Grand Canyon and the majesty of giant redwoods. Re-creating the ambiance of each locale with consumate skill, Baumann produced works on paper that touch viewers through the beauty of his vision.” Gustave Baumann: Colorful Cuts celebrates the 2005 gift to the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) of 65 color woodcuts and 26 drawings by the artist. These works, most of which have never been on view at the CMA, provide a comprehensive survey of Baumann’s long, productive career. The exhibition also illustrates how he worked and features his color woodcuts and drawings inspired by the landscapes, architecture and cultures of Illinois, Indiana, New York, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and California. While the works on paper exemplify Baumann’s extraordinary vision and skill, his writings, quoted throughout the exhibition, reveal his inner life and thoughts about art. This free exhibitionis organized by Jane Glaubinger, the CMA’s retired curator of prints. It is on view now through May 2, 2021, in the James and Hanna Bartlett Prints and Drawings Gallery (101).
“With the reopening of our museum, we look forward to showcasing this generous gift of works from the artist’s daughter, Ann,” said William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “Gustave Baumann was a master of color woodblock printing, and the works on view allow visitors to appreciate his sources of inspiration and distinctive technique.”
Baumann did everything himself, including cutting a block for each color, mixing inks and printing. The exhibition features Summer Clouds (1926), the only print in the collection for which the museum has the woodblocks and both the color proofs and the progressive proofs. This allows visitors to understand how Baumann printed layers of color to achieve rich effects.
After living in Chicago and rural southern Indiana, in 1918 Baumann settled in Santa Fe, where he spent the next 50 years portraying the natural beauty of the Southwest and California. Exhilarated by the exotic landscape, he developed a sophisticated technique of printing layers of pure, brilliant hues to reproduce the intense, crystalline sunlight and clear, arid atmosphere of the region. Baumann was also captivated by the area’s cultural diversity and depicted the rituals of traditional Native American life and historical sites, including Roman Catholic Colonial-era churches.