William Sommer • Ohio: 1867-1947
U.S. Mail - Brandywine Landscape • Watercolor on Paper 36” x 20.75” each
Believe it or not, early twentieth century Cleveland was one of the art capitols of the world. It was a time when modern art was exploding and a battle between modern artists and traditional Realists was being waged in America and Europe. In Cleveland the modernists found refuge in the Kokoon Club, inspired by New York’s famed Kit Kat Klub. The modernists certainly knew how to party as the Kokoon’s Annual Bal-Masque balls scandalized the city with “risqué activities, provocative art, nudity and was sometimes waggishly referred to as the ‘Cocaine Club’.”
At the center of the bohemian celebration stood William Sommer, cofounder of the club that was northeast Ohio’s social and intellectual heart well into the 1940s. His was a story of great artistic talent, deep love, and alcoholic torment. It was as rich a brew as any Cleveland working-class brewery every put in a barrel.
In 1907, Sommer found himself in the middle of a bubbling Cleveland art scene. He and August Biehle became two of its most prominent modernists. Sommer’s developed a signature style using compressed space, simplified forms and transparent watercolors as seen in his paintings U.S. Mail – Brandywine Landscape.
(story continues below break)