Konrad Cramer (1888-1963)
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Improvisation, c. 1911-13

Konrad Cramer was born in Germany, but worked his entire adult life in the United States, dividing his time between New York City and Woodstock, New York. His early life was spent in the city of Wurtzberg, where his mother was an opera singer and an uncle was a successful painter of still lifes. He was exposed early in his education to the work of Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. The former instilled in him a prescient view of the power of abstraction, and the latter, a fellow Bavarian, left a stylistic mark on young Cramer that would resurface again and again throughout his career. In 1911, Cramer met a young American named Florence Ballin, to whom he was swiftly married. Florence, also a painter, brought Konrad to New York, where she studied painting at the Art Students League. Cramer brought his deep understanding of German Expressionism to the crucible of New York’s community of Modernism. He worked in a variety of styles through his career, but the uniquely American synthesis of Bauhaus-esque design with vernacular subjects would be a lasting influence on American Modernism and the Woodstock colony that he helped build.