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Eugene von Bruenchenhein, a humble baker from Milwaukee, believed that being born in the year of the passage of Halley’s Comet was irrefutable proof that the gods had endowed him with artistic genius. In 1943, he married Eveline Kalke, who was 10 years younger than him, and she became his muse, inspirer, and subject, directly or indirectly, of all his art. He renamed her Marie. Photography then became his primary mode of expression: he created hundreds of portraits of Marie adorned with different attributes. Marie becomes, by turns, a goddess, queen, star, seductress, or ingenue. In 2013, these photographs were featured at the Venice Biennale, while an entire room was dedicated to him in the exhibition An Alternative Guide to The Universe at the Hayward Gallery in London.⁠

eugene von bruenchenhein, self-portrait, 1947. - © christian berst — art brut
Date 1910 — 1983
Country United States

Von Bruenchenhein, born on 31 July 1910 in Wisconsin, lost his mother when he was only seven years old. He began working at an early age: as a florist, as a grocer, and then as a baker. His physical stature was small, and he worked daylong in the privacy–and total secrecy–of his kitchen, obsessively dedicating himself to his artistic work, persuaded that his birth during the year of the passage of Halley’s Comet was irrefutable proof that the gods had bestowed artistic genius on him. “I come from another world,” he would say. In 1943 he married Eveline Kalke, ten years his junior. She became his inspiring muse and the subject, direct and indirect, of all his art. He renamed her Marie. Photography then became his main medium. He made hundreds of portraits of Marie decked out with Christmas decorations, patterned fabric and copper crowns, in often-erotic poses, seated on a chair in front of a setting that had been cobbled together. Marie was goddess, then queen, film star, seducer and ingénue. Von Bruenchenhein developed his photographs in the basin of his bathroom, discovering the double exposure that gave his works a hint of Man Ray-style surrealism. He coloured other photographs by hand.

In parallel to his inexhaustible photographic creativity, he produced several conventional paintings. This branch of his artistic work was given a new boost when, profoundly affected by the development of the hydrogen bomb in 1954, Von Bruenchenhein began an experimental series of oil paintings, applying the paint with his hands or using brushes made of Marie’s hair. Von Bruenchenhein also began making sculptures using chicken and turkey bones.

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s work, discovered soon after his death on 24 January 1983 at the age of 72, was exhibited in September of the same year at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin. In 1997, Harald Szeemann, curator of the biennale de Lyon, put a spot on him. In 2005, the Chicago exhibition Create and Be Recognized, Photography on the Edge not only used one of his adages for its title, but it also established his reputation as an artist and gained him the recognition of artists such as Cindy Sherman.

His clichés are prominently featured at the current Venice Biennale and recently an entire room was devoted to his work at the Hayward Gallery’s An Alternative Guide to the Universe in London.

Please contact us to inquire about the available works.
untitled (Marie) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Marie), 1940
6.69 x 5.51 in
untitled (Marie) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Marie), 1940
7.87 x 9.84 in
untitled (Marie) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Marie), 1940
7.87 x 9.84 in
untitled (Marie) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Marie), 1940
7.87 x 9.84 in
untitled (Marie) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Marie), 1940
3.94 x 2.76 in
untitled (Marie) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Marie), 1940
2.36 x 3.94 in
untitled (Marie) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Marie), 1940
2.76 x 4.33 in
untitled (Marie) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Marie), 1940
4.72 x 6.69 in
untitled (Marie) - © christian berst — art brut
untitled (Marie), 1940
6.69 x 11.02 in
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein american beauty
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein : american beauty - © christian berst — art brut

Preface : Adrian Dannatt
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Eugene Von Bruenchenhein : american beauty, from october 18th to november 23th, 2013.

Culturas Paralelas:
works from the treger saint silvestre collection, Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto, Portugal. From February 17 to April 22, 2023.
Atomic Love Story
Fondation Dzielna, Varsovie. From May 14 to July 30, 2022.
Art Brut in the Giacosa-Ferraiuolo collection, Rome. From September 25, 2021 to January 30, 2022.
Photo Brut
Coll. Bruno Decharme & cie, American Folk Art Museum, New York. From January 24 to June 6, 2021.
Sereno variavel
curated by Antonia Gaeta, Centro de Arte Oliva, São João da Madeira. From October 31, 2020 to May 2, 2021.
View more
Sexual Personae
curated by Alison M. Gingeras, Hôtel Drouot, Paris. From October 21 to 29, 2020.
À deux
by Gustavo Giacosa, galerie Zola, Aix-en-Provence. From January 17 to March 7, 2020.
4th Biennale of Art Brut
Theatre, Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne. From November 29, 2019 to August 30, 2020.
Photo Brut
coll. Bruno Decharme & cie, Rencontre d'Arles. From July 1 to September 22, 2019.
visionary architecture
oliva creative factory. From May 14 to June 15, 2019.
Treger Saint-Silvestre Collection, Centro de Arte Oliva, Portugal. From April 13 to September 15, 2019.
Labanque, Béthune. From September 9, 2017 to February 18, 2018.
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein
mythologies, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, USA. From June 25, 2017 to February 14, 2018.
The road less traveled exhibition
mythologies : Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, USA. From June 25 to December 31, 2017.
The Golden Ratio Laws
Oliva Creative Factory, Portugal. From April 29 to September 30, 2017.
Art Brut
A Story of Individual Mythologies, Treger Saint Silvestre Collection, Portugal. From January 1 to February 26, 2017.
Brut Now
art brut in the technological era, Belfort Museums . From October 29, 2016 to January 16, 2017.
Biennale de l’Image Possible
Liège, Belgique. From August 20 to October 16, 2016.
cité de la mode et du design. From October 22 to 26, 2014.
art brut masterpieces and discoveries
carte blanche à bruno decharme, at the gallery. From October 21 to November 29, 2014.
Art brut
ABCD Collection / Bruno Decharme, la Maison rouge, Paris. From October 17, 2014 to January 18, 2015.
The Wall
Antoine de Galbert Collection , la Maison rouge, Paris. From June 14 to September 21, 2014.
Art brut: breaking the boundaries
curator Christian Berst, Oliva Creative Factory, Sao Joao da Madeira, Portugal. From June 1 to September 11, 2014.
art paris art fair 2014
la chine à l’honneur, grand palais. From March 26 to 30, 2014.
eugene von bruenchenhein
american beauty, at the gallery. From October 18 to November 23, 2013.
An Alternative Guide to the Universe
Hayward Gallery, Londres. August 28, 2013.
il palazzo enciclopedico, Venice Bienale #55
curator Massimiliano Gioni, Arsenale. From May 29 to July 28, 2013.
Great and mighty things
outsider art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art. From March 3 to June 9, 2013.
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein
freelance artist-poet and sculptor-innovator-arrow maker and plant man-bone artifacts constructor-photographer and architect-philosopher, American Folk Art Museum, New York. From November 24, 2010 to July 24, 2011.
Inner Worlds Outside
Fundacion La Caixa, Madrid ; Whitechapel gallery, London ; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. From January 18 to December 30, 2006.
A world of their own
Twentieth-Century American Folk Art, Newark Museum, USA. From May 1 to June 24, 1995.
Exhibition view of *Photo Brut, Bruno Decharme & compagnie collection*, Mécanique Générale, Arles, 2019 - © © Collection Bruno Decharme & compagnie, christian berst — art brut
Exhibition view of *Eugene Von Bruenchenhein : american beauty*, christian berst art brut, Paris, 2013 - © ©christian berst art brut, christian berst — art brut
exhibition view of *eugene von bruenchenhein : american beauty*, christian berst art brut, paris, 2013. - © christian berst art brut, christian berst — art brut
Press review
Fantastic Fixation in ‘Photo Brut’
J. Hoberman, The New York Review. April 25, 2021.
Photo brut, collection Bruno Decharme & compagnie
Lyle Rexer, The Brooklynrail. February 5, 2021.
Photography in the Raw
Roberta Smith, The New York Times. February 4, 2021.
Through a glass, darkly and brightly
Elizabeth Pochoda, The Magazine Antiques. January 18, 2021.
is there such a thing as outsider photography?
Claire Margat, Artpress. May 22, 2020.
View more
‘is humanism dead?’ asks redux of 1959 MoMA show
Jonathan Griffin, Frieze. March 12, 2020.
Arles 6 : Photographie brute, vers un peu de cohérence
Marc Lenot, Amateur D’art, Par Lunettes Rouges. September 4, 2019.
Artpress à Arles. épisode 3
Charles-Arthur Boyer, Artpress. July 18, 2019.
cérémonie du portrait
Mathilde Girard, Artpress 2. September 1, 2017.
relire bataille
Catherine Millot, Artpress 2. September 1, 2017.
par delà le territoire de la photographie
Danielle Leenaerts, L’art Même. August 1, 2016.
l’art brut sous les feux des projecteurs
La Rédaction, La October 15, 2014.
Eugene von Bruenchenhein n’a pas fini de nous étonner
Yolande Finkelsztajn, Les Cahiers De La Photographie. September 1, 2014.
Art Paris Art Fair : l’autre foire d’art contemporain
Véronique Bouruet-Aubertot, Télé March 26, 2014.
L’art brut a sa place à Art Paris Art Fair
La Rédaction, AMA. March 26, 2014.
World’s foremost annual show of Outsider art to run May 8-11, 2014
La Rédaction, March 20, 2014.
Eugene von Bruenchenhein, American beauty
François Salmeron, November 25, 2013.
Eugene von Bruenchenhein, American beauty
Jules Naudet, L’oeil De La Photographie. November 20, 2013.
Eugene von Bruenchenhein – American Beauty
Bénédicte Philippe, Télérama November 15, 2013.
Von Bruenchenhein, au nom de Marie
Dominique Poiret, Libération. November 8, 2013.
De l’art et une belle histoire d’amour
Le Journal De La Parisienne. November 4, 2013.
A la gloire de Marie
Dominique Poiret, Libé October 30, 2013.
Eugene von Bruenchenhein, American beauty
Mikaël Demets, Time Out . October 29, 2013.
L’éternelle beauté de la femme aimée (Bruenchenhein)
Lunettes Rouges, Blog Amateur D’art Par Lunettes Rouges. October 23, 2013.
American Beauty, l’exposition art brut tout en finesse
Paris October 23, 2013.
Eugene von Bruenchenhein, galerie christian berst
Philippe Dagen, Le Monde. October 21, 2013.
galerie christian berst, ma femme est une bombe
Emmanuelle Lequeux, Beaux Arts N°353. October 21, 2013.
une photo “brute”
Marie Zawisza, L’Oeil. October 17, 2013.
Ruée vers l’art brut
Noémie Barré, Photos Nathalie Baetens, Coté Paris N°29. October 15, 2013.
Eugene von Bruenchenhein, American beauty
La Gazette De Drouot. October 14, 2013.
Eugene + Marie
Alabama Chanin Journal. October 14, 2013.
consécration posthume
Stéphane Corréard, Libération Next N° 10076. October 5, 2013.
Smithsonian Museum Of American Art
United States
High Museum of Art
United States
Carmen and Daniel Klein collection
abcd / Bruno Decharme collection
Treger Saint Silvestre collection
View more
Antoine de Galbert collection
American Folk Art Museum
United States
Philadelphia Museum of Art
United States
Intuit, The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
United States
Milwaukee Art Museum
United States
Anthony Petullo Collection
United States
John Michael Kohler Arts Center
United States
collection Sylvie and Stéphane Corréard
Dammann collection
Akron Art Museum
United States
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein

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