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 Elmer Edward Taflinger  (1891 - 1981)

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Lived/Active: Indiana      Known for: landscape, figure, mural- allegory

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Elmer Edward Taflinger
An example of work by Elmer Edward Taflinger
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Elmer Taflinger attended Manual Training High School, where he studied art under Otto Stark (1859-1926). During his youth Taflinger worked as a stagehand at the Murat Theatre and at English's Opera House. He studied art at the New York Art Students League for six years before being hired by stage producer David Belasco (1853-1931). Taflinger worked in various capacities, including art director and stage manager, under Belasco from 1914 to 1922. His duties included designing costumes, sets, and lighting, scouting plays, and casting.

After leaving Belasco, Taflinger traveled in Europe for a short time. He returned to New York City and re-entered the Art Students League, where he studied under George B. Bridgman (1864-1943), a well-known teacher of the human figure. Taflinger's drawings would later be included in an anatomy textbook by Bridgman. Taflinger divided his time between his work and studies in New York and studies in Florence, Italy.

Before beginning a position at the Minneapolis School of Art in 1925, Taflinger contracted diphtheria while on one of his trips to Italy. During his first year at the art school, Taflinger suffered from progressive paralysis, a result of the disease, but still taught his classes. At the end of the academic year, Taflinger's health had improved and he returned to Florence, Italy, to continue his studies.

He returned to the United States in 1927 and moved to Indianapolis a year later, where he worked in the studio of printmakers George Jo and Gordon B. Mess and taught at the Circle Art Academy. In 1934, he established a studio in a two-story carriage house at 158 East 14th Street. Taflinger taught life-drawing courses at this location for a number of years. He also taught at the Indianapolis Art League (now the Indianapolis Art Center) until 1965.

His most enduring works of art include the mural "Apotheosis of Science" (1938), the fresco "The Triumph of the Ideal" (1940), , and "The Ruins", located in The Constitution Mall, a park designed in part by Taflinger in Holliday Park, IN.
Taflinger's work in the project was part of a twenty-year controversy involving the funding and design of the project. It was eventually dedicated in 1978.

Taflinger was no stranger to controversy. In 1933, he petitioned to change his place of birth in protest of a commission for the 1934 Chicago World's Fair given to non-resident Thomas Hart Benton by Indiana's world's fair committee. Taflinger was a strong vocal force in the Indianapolis arts community throughout much of his later life.

In his later years, he focused on completing his autobiography, "Revolting Hoosier, A Modest Autobiography," which he worked on periodically for over 30 years. A 43 minute documentary was produced based on his book in the 1990's.

Compiled and submitted, December 2003, by Gerard Dunn who credits THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION ARCHIVE OF AMERICAN ART and THE INDIANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

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