Outsider Artists Featured at CTA Blue Line Station
Written by Alison Amick, Senior Manager of Exhibitions and Development, Chief Curator at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
Did you know the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) features works of art at their stations? Recently, the CTA renovated the Chicago Avenue Blue Line Station, just kitty-corner from Intuit. As part of this process, the CTA engaged Intuit about artists and artworks from the museum’s collection that could be reproduced in light boxes gracing the renovated station. After discussing numerous possibilities, the artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein was selected as the choice.
Self-taught artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein created striking artworks in the Milwaukee home he shared with his wife, Eveline Kalka, whom he nicknamed “Marie.” In the 1940s, he began a series of photographs of Marie, before turning his attention to painting around 1950. At the time these two paintings were created—the mid-1950s—Von Bruenchenhein, like many Americans, was thinking about the possibility of nuclear warfare and possible annihilation.
Excavated in the mid-20th century, the ancient Mayan city of Palenque would have appealed to Von Bruenchenhein as a subject. The artist was interested in past civilizations, believing himself to come from royal lineage, and may have seen parallels between the rise and fall of Palenque and the uncertain era in which he lived. Ruins of Palenque #216 incorporates Von Bruenchenhein’s technique of using his fingers to manipulate paint, here, to create the stacked geometric forms that comprise his structure. Its vibrant pinks, purples and blues contrast with the more muted orange and green of the swirling smoke-like background. Von Bruenchenhein, who worked as a florist for a time after high school, also created brightly colored fantastical landscapes filled with vegetation and flora. His dynamic composition Untitled #289 incorporates botanical elements set against a fiery background of reds and yellows, suggestive of an apocalyptic vision.
The light boxes are now in! Stay tuned to our social media channels for updates.