Karl Albert Buehr

Karl Albert Buehr

1866 – 1952

Born in Germany in 1866 to Frederick and Fredericka (Doh) Buehr, prosperous vineyard owners, Karl Buehr Buehr came to America with his family at the age of three.  In Chicago, young Carl worked at various jobs until the age of fourteen. He was then employed by a lithography company near the Art Institute of Chicago.  Introduced to art at his job, Karl paid regular visits to the Art Institute, where he found part time employment, enabling him to enroll in night classes.  Later, working at the Institute as a night watchman, he had the unique opportunity to study the masters.  Having studied under John H. Vanderpoel, Karl graduated with honors, while his work aroused such admiration that he was offered a teaching post there, which he held for many years thereafter.

In 1904, Buehr received a bronze medal at the St. Louis Universal Exposition.  In 1905, Buehr and his family moved to France, thanks to a wealthy Chicago patron, and they spent the following year in Taormina, Sicily, where the artist painted local subjects, executing both genre subjects and landscapes.

Karl Albert Buehr spent at least some time in Paris where he worked with Raphaël Collin at the Acadèmie Julian.  Prior to this time, Buehr had developed a quasi-impressionistic style, but after 1909, when he began spending summers near Monet in Giverny, his work became decidedly characteristic of the plein-air style.  He began focusing on female subjects posed out-of-doors.  He remained for some time in Giverny, and here he became well acquainted with other well known expatriate American impressionists such as Richard Miller, Theodore Earl Butler, Frederick Frieseke and Lawton Parker.  It seems likely that Buehr met Monet, since his own daughter and Monet’s granddaughter, Lili Butler were playmates according to George Buehr, the painter’s son.

Buehr remained an expressive colorist, but broadened his brushwork somewhat in later years when impressionism waned. His later work often showed a female figure with serious expression engaging the viewer with a direct stare. In his landscapes, he was noted for his strong coloration Back in America, he was immediately successful. He won a silver medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The PPIE was a world’s fair that lasted almost one year in 1915. One of the many lasting effects of the 1915 Exposition was the recognition, both national and international; it brought to artists and their work. Buehr won the Purchase Prize of the Chicago Municipal Art Commission in the following year. After a long and exceedingly productive career, Karl Albert Buehr died in Chicago in 1952, at the age of eighty-six.

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