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The Kaufmann's Art Collection

Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:19 pm
by Meisolus
I follow the Art Institute of Chicago on Instagram, and they recently posted The Rock by Peter Blume


In the 9th grade, when I was 15, I took a class trip to Chicago and we visited the Art Institute. I remember wandering around and finding this painting. A few of us were fascinated by it, but we didn't know what it all meant. I remember it frightening me a bit, but also being drawn to it. Reading the description I found, to my surprise, it belonged to Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann. They commissioned it and it hung at Fallingwater. In fact, the construction on the left is meant to represent Fallingwater. It was given to the Art Institute by Edgar Kaufmann Jr.

I remember there being some really great art at Fallingwater last time I visited. There were some Japanese prints - Hiroshige's I believe - and also a few paintings that impressed me (perhaps a Georgia O'Keefe? The fact that my memory is failing me on this is killing me.) But this raises some questions - first, where did this painting originally hang? Are there any pictures of it in situ? What else used to be at Fallingwater that isn't anymore?

I know that EK Jr. was quite the collector, but how much of it was his parent's art to begin with? I'd love to know more about their taste.

Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:02 am
by SDR
(I periodically remind my peers that Edgar the younger spelled his personal suffix with a lower-case j---for the record.)

That painting raises questions: who is the artist, and what if anything has he said about this work ? What else has been said about it ? ... ty-of-hope

We should not forget his earlier painting, "House at Fallingwater" (1938), with its much more specific image of the Kaufmann's house:


Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:02 pm
by Meisolus

Thank you for the link to the art exhibit. I'm excited there's a catalogue for it as I'm fascinated by Blume's Surrealism.

Looking at the Art Institute's website, the painting is apparently 5' x 6'. Where would that fit in Fallingwater? That's practically floor to ceiling in most rooms.

Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2019 10:47 pm
by SDR
Assuming that we know that the Kaufmanns owned the painting (do we know that ?), I'd have to guess that it was kept at their Pittsburg residence. I don't recall seeing it in any Fallingwater photo...and as you say, it wouldn't fit on most walls there---if any.


Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:00 am
by Meisolus
The Art Institute's page on the work says it was commissioned by the Kaufmanns and was on display at Fallingwater. The article you cited tells a slightly different story, but we know it belonged to the Kauffmans and was donated by EKj.

I emailed Fallingwater and asked if it used to be there. Hopefully I get a response.

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:30 am
by Meisolus
Fallingwater sent me a very prompt reply. They said they had no record of The Rock being on display there. Furthermore, Franklin Toker's Fallingwater Rising says that the painting was displayed at either their Pittsburgh or Palm Springs residence.

I have now reached out to the Art Institute of Chicago for some additional answers. We'll see what I find.

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:37 am
by SDR ... view-paper

Scroll down for 2011 magazine article . . .