Monday, May 05, 2014


New Ulm, Minnesota, circa 1930, photographer unknown

Yet another visit to the Kerlan Collection to nourish my obsession with Wanda Gág. This time I did see that the previously "missing" photo album had been restored to its proper place. While looking through all the albums again, I noticed that one of the uncatalogued loose photos was of a small shack beside a river, with the shadowy figure of a man entering. I hadn't looked at it closely before—it was somewhat underexposed and blurry—but this time I knew exactly what it was.

Wanda's uncle, Frank Biebl, was an all around handyman and folk artist, I've previously posted pictures of a couple of his hand-carved toys. His self-taught artistry impressed Wanda greatly, she wrote extensively about him in her diaries:
Oh, Uncle Frank!—if you only knew how much more you are an artist, how much more deeply so than many, many "artists" I have met—if you could realize how close are you and I—I with my years of studies, with my knowledge of Cézanne, Renoir, Michelangelo, abstract form, dynamic rhythm, inter-relation of objects—you with a tool you have carved yourself, running your rough, gnarly hand over its negative curves, in complete appreciation of the primitive forms it will carve in wood; not realizing how close you come to—let us say Archipenko!—with his concave forms in a statue, which one is expected to translate, aesthetically, into convex ones."

So this must have been a very important photo indeed. She sketched the inside of this small studio many times and even made a lithograph of it in 1935:

                                    Wanda Gág, Uncle Frank's Workshop, 1935.                                    Winnan 106

By Professor Batty


Blogger Shoshanah Lee Marohn said...

That photo is creepy!

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