1920 (St. Louis, Missouri)
2010 (North Carolina)
Share an Image of the Artist
Often Known For
landscape and portrait painting, illustration, graphics
Would you like to discuss this artist?
AskART Discussion Boards
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The following is from the artist (Submitted 2002):|
James W. von Brunn (JvB)
Born: 7-11-20 in St. Louis, Missouri
Studio: Easton, MD
Subjects: Scapes, Portraits, Illustrations, Graphics
Methods: Oil, mixed media.
The von Brunn/Wenneker families migrated from Germany/Austria c. 1845, settling in St. Louis, Missouri.
von Brunn's father, Elmer, was superintendent of Scullin Steel Mill.
During WWII he designed, and supervised a 40mm shell plant for the U.S.
government in Houston, Texas. His wife Hope Wenneker von Brunn,
educated at Hosmer Hall, was a homemaker and accomplished pianist. They
had two children, James (JvB) and Alyce. The family spent summer months
at Piasa. Illinois, where JvB roamed the limestone bluffs overlooking
the Mississippi River, hunted snakes and turtles in the willows along
its banks, and collected Indian artifacts. His grandmother Wenneker
(grossemutter) gave him an oil paint set for his 7th birthday. His
inspiration to paint came from Scribner Illustrated Classics and
painters such as Pyle, Schoonover, and Wyeth. But his painting, because
of his love of athletics, was confined to days of inclement weather.
During the hiatus between high school and college he hitchhiked through
Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.
JvB was educated in public
schools. He matriculated at Washington University in 1938. He became
president of SAE and played varsity football. The coach got him a
Structural Bridge, Steel and Iron-Workers union card. During the summer
months JvB worked as a punk hauling coal for forges perched high-up on
steel-girders - buildings being constructed for the war effort. As
experienced men were drafted into the Sea-Bees JvB quickly graduated to
rivet-bucker and finally riveter. Either you conquered your fear and
walked the beams or you quit. The other option was a long way down. At
the University JvB was in the Liberal Arts program. He enrolled in art
classes where he learned that Marxist/Liberal concepts dominated the
program. Anatomy studies were discarded along with perspective, drawing
and old master techniques. Western Culture was replaced by
"expressionism." We see the results today in expensive art produced by
monkeys, elephants, Pollack and pianists who play with their elbows.
changed directions, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in
Journalism. The following day he was inducted into the U.S. Naval
Reserve. As an Ensign he was shipped overseas in 1943 to "destroy the
German disease," just as his family before him had been sent to "save
the world for Democracy." JvB became a PT-boat captain, serving in the
Med and Pacific theaters. He was honorably discharged in March 1946 as
a Lieutenant with 3-battle stars and a Commendation from Admiral
Hewitt. While in the service JvB painted watercolors of the passing
JvB moved to New York City in 1947. He studied figure
painting at the Central Park School of Art, located on Madison Ave at
57th Street, Manhattan. To make ends meet he worked in a bank vault at
night. He attempted to crack into the newspaper business but all doors
were closed to conservatives. Instead, he found a job in big-league
advertising on Madison Avenue where he started as paste-up boy at $35
per week. He attended evening classes at the Art Student's League where
he studied color and design under Howard Trafton. At that time the
so-called "Holocaust" burst upon the scene. JvB was asked to change his
German name by several companies during his 20-years New York career.
Eric Sloane (Heinrichs) advised JvB to do as he had, "You'll never make
it in New York if you don't."
JvB exhibited his easel paintings
at the Commodore Hotel, Hotel Biltmore, Abercrombie & Fitch, and
the Eastside Gallery. He illustrated for Wm. Morrow Publishers, and for
two art studios. As an agency art-director JvB was asked to create
story-boards for television. This took him to the set where he learned
film techniques. Eventually he became an advertising executive film-
producer-director and eventually producer director for two prominent
film/tape production companies.
In 1951 JvB and Patricia
Beverley-Giddings were married. Her father, creative director and
novelist, was a Sandhurst graduate and an RFC pursuit-pilot, WWI. He
survived being shot down by von Richtofen's Flying Circus. During WWII
he was a member of British Intelligence. Bev owned a manor house on
Maryland's Eastern Shore where the family gathered for holidays and for
the shooting season. Tidewater country presented a wealth of subject
matter ranging from watermen and their rigs to sporting scenes, and
scapes. This was grist for JVB's paint brush. In 1951 Patricia gave
birth to a baby boy, Jim "Bim" von Brunn. Pat was unable to have any
more children. Bim attended the Church of Heavenly Rest, and Trinity,
in NYC; the Country School, in Easton; St. Andrews prep-school, and
University of Miami, Florida.
moved to Easton, MD where he established an advertising agency. He was
elected president of the Academy of the Arts. His friend Lee Lawrie,
renowned sculptor, was co-founder of the Academy. Meanwhile JvB's
political posture placed a burden on his marriage. Patricia and JvB
parted company. The divorce was a tragedy for all concerned.
Please note, the rest of this autobiography was removed because it was inappropriate for an artist biography.
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
On June 10, 2009 James von Brunn walked up to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, carrying a rifle and fatally shooting security guard Stephen T. Johns as he was opening the door for him. Von Brunn was wounded by return fire from two other guards but survived. In a seven-count indictment, he was charged with first-degree murder, killing in a federal building, and bias-motivated crime. The indictment also accused him of seeking to intimidate Jewish people at the museum.
Von Brunn was held at Federal Prison in Butner, North Carolina awaiting trial and died on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at an area hospital. According to a prison spokesperson, he had "a long history of poor health which included chronic congestive heart failure and sepsis."
Associated Press, Wednesday, January 6, 2010.
CNN News Media
|These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:|
According to the press office of the Academy Art Museum, there are no records indicating that James W. von Brunn was ever President of the Board, or even a member of the Board.
|** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.|