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 Franz Maximiian Baum  (1888 - 1982)

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Lived/Active: California/Washington / Germany      Known for: Landscape, animal painting, etching, teaching

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Franz  Baum
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Franz Maxmilian Baum (January 14, 1888-May 6, 1982) was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, the youngest of three children. His mother was a well known concert pianist, Julia Anna Bloch, and his father, the owner of a linen mill and imported fabric business. In 1907 Franz spent some time in Lausanne, Switzerland, learning French and Italian languages. Following, he studied for two years at the Stuttgart Academy of Art and Design. From there, Munich, where he continued his art education at the Munich Royal Academy, taking part in a Secessions exhibition in 1912.

Come WWI, he served in a few different positions over four years, spending part of it leading a mounted scout troupe. Franz once told his youngest daughter Valora that he could hear horses crying. "They cried--really." Obviously, he must have heard something like this as he lay fatally injured and left behind after a battle in 1917. A Catholic nun, searching for survivors, found him still alive and rescued him.

After initial recoveries in a local hospital, he was sent to Stuttgart for further rehabilitation, and there he met Rudolph Steiner, a major influence throughout the rest of his life. He became involved with Stiener's group, and the formative steps of the Steiner schools, known today as Waldorf Schools.

All through the war as well as after, he never stopped sketching, and in 1920 Franz went to live in the Schwabing district of Munich to continue his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (animal studies and anatomy w. Prof. Heinrich von Zügel); at the Academy of Visual Arts (techniques of old masters w. Max Doerner): and at Technical University (color chemistry). Two other teachers he worked with were Hoeltzel and Paul Klee.

He also took some classes at a veterinary school to better learn the innermost workings of a horse. Franz became a Munchner Secession member, and joined yearly Secession exhibitions at the Glaspalast and other cities from 1922 on. Around this time he was commissioned to paint a large mural for the Munich Oktoberfest at the Hypodrom.

During the 1920s he continued with horses--not just drawing or painting them, but riding--which included advanced instruction in the Art of Dressage. Around 1930 he began to teach horsemanship and dressage, something he did in the morning several days a week for years to come. He also obtained a part-time job teaching some aspect of art at the Munich Academy. One of his students was a young American, Abby Beveridge, who was taking a variety of classes associated with her primary interest: sculpture.  After several years their friendship developed into marriage (Dec. 1934). Franz was already married when they met, but that union was not of long duration.

In 1935 the couple bought a secluded house in Polling, an alpine village thirty miles south of Munich, which had once been popular with American artists. Franz painted two large outdoor murals there in the following years. He worked in his studio every afternoon, sending his pictures to the galleries of Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and beyond.

One would think, all things considered, that the Nazis might leave him alone. He had done his best for Germany in the First World War, was married to an American who had come from a prestigious family, and his equestrian job was not the sort which was normally denied anyone of Jewish heritage. In any case, one had to look a few generations back for that in the form of dedicated involvement. Furthermore, teaching art in private hardly counted. But as 1935 merged into '36, '37 and '38, restrictions upon his right to exhibit his work grew. He had known himself as a regular member of German society; but the Nazi regime insisted on making separations therein, imposing "racial distinctions" when and where they could.

During Franz Baum's years of study he had learned the art of political cartoons, and had published a few anti-Hitler ones in liberal papers during the first years of the new government, a time when many Germans were experiencing considerable unbelief at what was happening. But resistance at that time was not uncommon. Now, hearing from friends that he was in imminent danger, he and Abby wondered if it were true.

There was someone who worked in the offices of the Munich Nazi Headquarters (in a movie, we'd make it the unsuspectable charwoman) who was keeping an eye on a particular list. When someone's name was inscribed there, it would not be long until they would be taken.  She wrote down new names and handed them to her underground connection who then warned people.

So one evening in February of 1939 the warning came, and within a few hours Franz left, leaving Abby to get the house moved and herself as well, along with her eighteen-month-old baby boy. Plans had already been made to head for Seattle, Washington, but living where they were in Polling, it hadn't seemed absolutely necessary to go through with them. Maybe by some chance the cloud would pass. But it didn't.

Nearly a year after arriving in Seattle, Franz had a one-man exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum (Feb.7-Mar.3, 1940). In 1943, following the birth of two more children--both girls--he and Abby moved to Santa Cruz, California and bought a house out in the country. During the next fifteen years Franz exhibited drawings and paintings at establishments such as the Art Institute of Cleveland, Ohio; Civic Center Museum, San Francisco; San Francisco Museum of Art; Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco; E. B. Crocker Gallery, Sacramento; and Montalvo in Saratoga, California. He was one of the founders of the Santa Cruz Art League.

In 1953, around the time when his twenty-year marriage failed, he began to teach evening adult education art classes at the high school in Santa Cruz, an educational precursor which offered adults learning opportunities before there were colleges in the area. This continued for five years. He also taught private one-on-one and group art lessons.

In 1958 Franz Baum decided to return to Germany. Government money was waiting for him there--from his WWI injuries perhaps, and money allotted because he had been forced to emigrate to avoid capture by the Nazis in '39. He needed to have monetary support for his latter years and had no chance of this in the United States.  So back he went, first to Munich for a time, and then to Tegernsee where he lived until he died at the age of 94, exhibiting in Munich and other cities, teaching privately, and painting daily.

Written and submitted by Valora Tree, daughter of the artist.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Franz Baum was born in Wiesbaden, Germany on Janury 14, 1888. Baum studied at the Royal Academy in Munich. He was in Seattle before moving to Santa Cruz, CA in 1943 and was active there until 1958, when he returned to Germany.

The painting, Young Stallion, owned by the Seattle Museum was sold by the museum.

Seattle Museum, 1939-41
Crocker Museum (Sacramento), 1941
San Francisco Museum of (Modern) Art, 1941
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1951 (solo)
Valora Tree, daughter of the artist
Who's Who in American Art 1947-59.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"

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