Gallery Artists > Odon Hullenkremer Biography :

Odon Hullenkremer (1888 - 1978)  Artworks >>

Santa Fe's Odon Hullenkremer was an artist of international stature; a brilliant draftsman and colorist whose devotion to traditional realism made him one of the great portrait painters of his time. Born in Budapest, Hungary on June 1, 1888 Odon Hullenkremer showed both skill and passion for art even as a small child. At age 15, the self-taught artist entered a painting competition in Budapest, taking first prize. Because Odon Hullenkremer was an unknown, the judges went to his home to verify authorship of the painting. When Odon's mother and sister professed no knowledge of his entry in the competition, the judges thought they had uncovered a fraud. The sister did say, however, that Odon spent a great deal of time "fussing around" in the attic. Up the stairs they went, only to find the teenager furiously painting at his easel. With his talents confirmed and prizes conferred, young Odon Hullenkremer was presented at the Hungarian Royal Court to Emperor Franz Josef I. Many years later Hullenkremer recalled that, upon seeing the skinny youth, the Emperor exclaimed, "You mean to tell me that painting was done by this kid!" Then the aged monarch laid his hand on Odon Hullenkremer's shoulder and said, "Boy, if you keep this up you will be a great painter some day." Having earned such a remarkable honor, Odon Hullenkremer immediately was admitted to the Hungarian Royal Academy of Fine Arts where he began his formal art instruction in 1904. After stints at the University of Alexandria in Egypt and the Kunstgewerbe Berlin, he settled in for advanced study at the Royal Academy of Arts in Munich in 1909 and 1910. Odon Hullenkremer's experience in Germany led to a commission from Kaiser Wilhelm in 1911 to paint a fresco in Jerusalem's Augusta Victoria Memorial Church which the Kaiser was then building on the Mount of Olives. His time in the Middle East seemed to have whetted Hullenkremer's appetite for travel. Odon Hullenkremer spent most of the next three years touring North Africa, South America, the West Indies, and finally, Canada and the United States, visiting museums and sketching the people and landscapes. In 1914, Odon Hullenkremer decided to emigrate permanently, landing briefly in New York and then Toronto. After the Canadian police began to suspect (quite wrongly) that the young man with the thick accent was a German spy, Hullenkremer moved to Toledo, Ohio where he lived and painted for the next fourteen years. During his time in Toledo, Odon Hullenkremer studied art with Wilder Darling and took courses at the University of Toledo where he developed an abiding interest in psychology and the social sciences. Rather than being a diversion from his art, he saw these studies as a way to deepen his artistic vision. Odon Hullenkremer had long since specialized in portrait, figure and genre painting, and increasingly felt that he needed a more thorough understanding of both the mind and body. Typical of the methodical and scientific way he approached all things in life, Odon Hullenkremer wanted to systematically identify the underlying principles of human reasoning, emotion, intelligence and motivation. He felt an individual's psychological make-up greatly affected that person's physical appearance. Therefore, knowledge of psychological principles would enable him to see and reveal the deeper truths about the people in his paintings. As important as psychology was to Odon Hullenkremer, it was only half of the scientific base he established for his art. Of course, all trained artists of his time made careful study of human anatomy, but Odon Hullenkremer carried his interest in physiognomy much further, into the realm of physical anthropology. He was not just interested in the form and structure of the "typical" human body, he was concerned with the myriad physical differences between individual subjects and between people from different countries, cultures and ethnicities. Jus

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