Born in Wisconsin in 1910, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein married a local girl and worked in a bakery during the ten years that he completed his most imaginative pieces. Most of his paintings were completed in a single frenzied session, one to three hours in length. His neighbors regarded him as a weird character. EVB saw himself as a great artist, but was unsuccessful in selling his work or gaining any recognition. By his own accounting, he completed 1,080 paintings. When he died, his small house was crammed from floor to ceiling with them.
Q: You chose crops of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s paintings as visuals for Too Far.
RS: I first saw Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s paintings in 2003. I found them mysterious and evocative, and full of energy. The more I looked at them, the more they expanded beyond the borders of the frame . . . the paintings completed during 1954-1963 are extraordinary.
Out of This World
Q: You loved the places EVB’s paintings took you and the power they had to stimulate your imagination.
RS: My enthusiasm reached the point that I wanted to share them. So in May, 2009, we launched VonBruenchenhein.com, an extensive online collection of EVB’s paintings.
Q: What makes a Visionary artist like EVB?
RS: I think it starts with a personal predilection. You’ve got to be built that way. But it also helps if something traumatic happens at age six—at the moment when anything is possible, and the imagination has this unusual control over the mind. If the real world burns down around the child, and there’s a strong desire to escape, the child may seek a firmer foundation elsewhere. EVB had a near-death experience when he was six, and his mother died when he was seven. Understanding why I felt so connected to EVB’s work was helpful in getting to the heart of Too Far.