Friday, April 12, 2013

Gustave Baumann and a call for Print Makers

Maybe I will dig out my old printmaking supplies from a class that I took in college and try out a couple of ideas.  (Yes, I still have things from that long ago!)  If you are a print maker, I hope you will join this show.  We also have several wonderful print makers in the St. Mark's parish, who will be offering a print making class for children in June.  More information about that soon.

One of my favorite print artists is Gustave Baumann.  My sister, Rosalind, owns a Baumann she purchased right out of college.  My mother, who loved artwork, never the less was horrified at the couple of thousand dollars Rosalind paid for it.  Here it is forty years later in Rosalind's living room...
Image Via "The Vintique Object"
 Baumann, born in Germany, moved to the United States when he was ten.  In 1918 he came to New Mexico where he lived and became an influencial member the community, active in civic affairs, and an integral part of the growing artist colony.

In Santa Fe, Baumann became known as a master of woodcuts and marionette-making, also producing oils and sculpture. His work depicted southwestern landscapes, ancient Indian petroglyphs, scenes of Pueblo life, and gardens and orchards. He remained in Santa Fe for more than fifty years until his death there in 1971. (via Wikipedia)

""After his marriage to the singer and actress Jane Henderson in 1925, and the arrival of their daughter Ann in 1927, Baumann and his family in 1931 began to create their marionette theater.  Intended in large part to entertain their daughter and friends, the marionette theater became an important part of their creative lives.

Gus, as he was called, carved the marionettes, created the stage props, painted the backdrops and wrote many of the scripts in consultation with Jane.  For her part, Jane helped clothe the figures and performed the marionettes with the assistance of friends. Ann inspired her parents and became a lead character in many of the plays. Performed in their living room, the theatrical productions became immensely popular and often referred to local characters and events. For years the Santa Fe community was invited to attend performances just before Christmas.  Eventually, because of their popularity, the marionette performances took place in St. Francis Auditorium and other public venues. The last public performance of the original marionettes occurred in 1959.

After the death of Gus in 1971, Jane and Ann gifted the marionettes, stage materials and related items to the New Mexico Museum of Art.  In addition, they and other Baumann supporters donated a vast selection of Baumann’s prints, paintings and drawings to the museum, thus making the collection the largest in the world. The museum annually presents marionette productions in St. Francis auditorium just before Christmas for the public. The marionettes performed are exact duplicates created so that the Baumann family’s gift to Santa Fe, New Mexico and the world can continue to be enjoyed."    (Via New Mexico Museum of Art)

In an interesting Smithsonian interview with Will Shuster,another Santa Fe artist, Will describes his relationship with Gus and shares that Gus made the head for the first giant puppet that is now annually made for the burning of Zorzobra celebration in Santa Fe.  To read that interview click here.

In you are interested in architecture and home design, click here for a fascinating peek into Gustave Baumann's home in Santa Fe.
Photographic reproduction via

Rosalind's print has increased significantly in value.  Perhaps you will find a similar investment by purchasing an original print at this upcoming show in June.  Although I would advise against buying a piece of artwork just because you think it might increase in value!  Only buy it if you LOVE it.  I am sure Rosalind feels like she has gotten her monies worth in enjoyment of this wonderful artist's work.  Rosalind is an art collector, while I always think..."Oh, I could make that myself."  But rarely do!


  1. Heather, the story is even better--I paid $750 for it! But that was nearly a months salary at the time.

  2. That was a really wise purchase Rosalind made. I saw my first Baumann print probably 25 years ago and I fell in love with them. I recall it being a price that never would have even been a possibility at the time. Baumann also spent some time in Provincetown on Cape Cod and I believe the print the was of Provincetown Harbor.

    Printing is something I'd love to get back to if I ever finish my house. Baumann's work is so incredibly detailed. I'm not sure it's something I'd ever even try to replicate. But I'm fascinated by the work of Helen Frankenthaler and really want to study her process more. There are so many fun ways of making prints though. It seems the possibilities are endless.


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