Conrad Buff

Theme/Style – California Impressionism, California Modernism, landscapes

Media – Oils, murals, illustrations

Artistic Focus –Individualistic in both lifestyle and artistic approach, Conrad Buff was an artist whose work defied categorization. His work, whether painting on canvas, mural or illustration, became known for its careful design, use of modern paint application techniques, strongly delineated borders, and dramatic contrast between the darks and lights of his beloved Western landscapes. His modernist experiments with stacks of oblong color prefigured the colored bands of Mark Rothko, while teaching Buff about the emotive impact of shape and color.

Career Highlights –

• Leaving his homeland of Switzerland, he moved from Wisconsin to Illinois to the Western United States, searching for a place where he could work for himself. He found that place in Southern California, and settled in Los Angeles in 1907.
• Working as a house painter to finance his dream of a life as an artist, Buff began experimenting with both pointillism and advancing and receding colors to make the rooms he painted seem lighter and larger.
• Such work influenced his approach to the landscapes he was painting, as did his artistic training at the Art Students League of Los Angeles where, while disliking Impressionism and the confident, bold, loose approach taught at the institution, he incorporated aspects of those styles into his clearly outlined, meticulous work.
• Touring the American Southwest in the1910s and 1920s inspired Buff’s early mature style, one in which he contrasted strong blue skies against the land while maintaining a sense of visual balance.