ARTISTS IN LOVE, part three
Eugene von Bruenchenhein (1910-1983) was a small, quiet man who worked the night shift at a bakery outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He and his wife Marie lived a humble life in a tiny shack where Eugene spent all his spare time painting and writing poetry.
Eugene and Marie kept to themselves. The neighbors never guessed that inside their meager little home, Eugene and Marie lived as a god and goddess.
The couple adored each other and during their forty year marriage built a rich fantasy life together. He made crowns and elaborate jewelry for her out of clay he dug himself. He used the bakery oven as a kiln to fire his creations late at night when no one was watching. He also made tiny thrones out of chicken bones painted gold.
Eugene's paintings and sculptures were quite mediocre. His real artistic accomplishment was that he made several thousand pictures of Marie as his queen, muse, glamour girl, goddess, siren. He would scavenge floral print wallpaper or scraps of fabric to create exotic backdrops. He would adorn her in sarongs and togas and bikinis. Many of these photos he later colored by hand.
Eugene created montages with Marie's face in the sky, in the sun, and in the trees.
I don't imagine that many housewives in Milwaukee during the 1940s and 1950s spent their days posing for their husbands in nothing but a tiara. But then, I don't think that Eugene and Marie ever felt bound by the time and place where they lived. Their love was transcendent.
Eugene's images of Marie remind me of the line by that great poet of love, Walt Whitman,
I will leave all,Whatever you may think about the song of Eugene von Bruenchenhein, there are definitely worse ways to live.
and come and make the hymns of you.