[From the catalogue-in-progress for “Landscapes & Livestock”, a loan exhibition for Agincourt Homecoming in the Fall of 2015]
NIEMANN, Edmund E. [1909-2005]
“Stop on Red”
oil on canvas / 18 inches by 24 inches
The exhibition title “Landscapes & Livestock” conjures pleasant images of Grant Wood, Norman Rockwell, Mayberry RFD. Yet agriculture is one of our most dangerous occupations; and the steady economic decline of small-town America has inflicted its own neuroses on a stoic population often unwilling to admit their need for help. So this urban rather than rural landscape by New York artist Edmund E. Niemann [1909-2005], a work of 1956 titled “Stop on Red”, is untypical of the collection as a whole. Mid-century modernity is also under-represented, perhaps because we’ve been a net exporter of our youth. It may be that the urban exodus of recent decades will balance the collection.
Niemann’s deconstructed streetscape compresses several New York City blocks in a jazzy syncopated one-point perspective. This painting once hung above the dining room sideboard in the home of “Riverside Addition” developers William and Maureen Bendix, a house nearly contemporary with the painting. It was purchased from the Bendix estate and donated anonymously.
Niemann’s role in the founding of Abstract Expressionism is being rediscovered.