Thursday, July 06, 2006

ARTISTS IN LOVE, part three

Eugene von Bruenchenhein (1910-1983) was a small man who worked the night shift at a bakery near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He and his wife Marie lived a humble life in a tiny home where Eugene painted and wrote poetry.

Eugene and Marie mostly kept to themselves. The neighbors never guessed that inside their meager shack, Eugene and Marie lived quietly as a god and goddess.

The couple adored each other and during their forty year marriage enjoyed a rich fantasy life. Eugene made crowns and elaborate jewelry for Marie out of clay which 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 pretty mediocre, and his poetry was no better. His real art was his several thousand pictures of Marie as his queen, muse, glamour girl, goddess, siren. He scavenged floral print wallpaper or scraps of fabric to create exotic backdrops for her. He adorned 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 many Milwaukee housewives in the 1940s spent their days posing for their husbands in nothing but a tiara. But then, Eugene and Marie don't seem to have felt constrained by the time and place in which they lived. Their love made them feel transcendent.

Eugene's artistic focus on Marie reminds me of the line by the great Walt Whitman:
I will leave all,
and come and make the hymns of you
Whatever you may think about the song of Eugene von Bruenchenhein, there are definitely worse ways to live your life.


Anonymous said...

This has to be one fo the sweetest stories I have ever heard. Notice that they didn't care at all about the showiness of their house, or their neighbors opinions. Fantastic! Thanks for this one, David! People who were so very happy with each other and lived a simple, but magical life. Take that, Maxfield Parrish!

theory_of_me said...

I guess if you can't think of anything better to do with your free time, falling in love is better than staring at the wall.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story. This alone is enough to brighten's one day.

Danielle Bennignus said...

Thank you so much for such a charming story - this should be nothing less than a lesson in Knowing Oneself, and following through with actions. A true story of love and beauty, through living one's truth.

Unknown said...

Beautiful and touching. Makes me think more of Milwaukee. The house is interesting too...small but expressive. Bravo, David! Nikki

MORAN said...

Great story. Finally a sincere artist.