The Vibrant Designs of Vera Neumann

The Vibrant Designs of Vera Neumann

06/10/2024     General, Florida

Vera was a very, very, very talented, creative and determined woman. Her parents encouraged Vera and her siblings at a very early age to be passionate in their interests, whatever they may be. Vera gravitated to painting. Her father engaged a painter to give her art lessons and took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art every Sunday. As incentive, he even paid her 50 cents for each sketchbook she filled with drawings. She became laser-focused on the fine arts, attending the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and later the Traphagen School of Design.

Vera’s goal was to become an artist, but she was also realistic and practical; she worked briefly as a fashion illustrator and textile designer and eventually struck out on her own becoming a freelance muralist for children’s rooms.

She married George Neumann, an advertising executive with a business administration degree; he also was from a well-known Hungarian textile family who had emigrated to the US in the late 1930s. They decided to go into business together—it was a business match made in heaven, as she was the talent, and he had the business sense and experience.

Vera was a driven artist, painting over 500 works each year at the pinnacle of her career. She was the first to successfully incorporate fine art into textiles created for the masses, by carefully creating designs mindful of the process used in their production. Vera soon learned the effects that best translated into the print medium: bright colors, movement and simple but dynamic compositions. She would sketch anywhere and everywhere, on anything and everything. bringing those sketches back home to become the inspiration for her finished paintings, which would be translated to printed textiles. While a student, Vera was introduced to the sumi-e technique, a Japanese ink-wash technique of painting where the artist holds the brush vertically to the paper. The spontaneity of the technique allowed her, in her words, “to leave out everything extraneous. With one brush stroke, I can be both impressionistic and graphic.”

She drew her inspiration from lots of things—something as local as the wildflowers along the Hudson, to things as remote as patterns and cultures absorbed on her world travels to Africa, India, Asia and South America. She was also influenced by contemporary artists such as Delaunay, Calder, Matisse and Miró. Orange was her favorite color, and her favorite motifs were Happy Sun, Fish, Butterflies, Botanicals, Birdcage, Abstracts and Flowers.

Vera and George were serious art connoisseurs. Their collection included works by Picasso, Braque, Albers, Vasarely, Matisse, Kokoschka, Tamayo and Miro. They also had a collection of outdoor and indoor sculpture and jewelry by their good friend, Alexander Calder. When George and Vera purchased Finney Farms, a 3.5 acre former apple orchard on the Hudson, they hired Marcel Breuer to design their house, as well as their factory and showroom; the house was completed in 1954.

Vera also amassed an enormous collection of World Folk Art on her travels—228 pieces from the collection were donated to the Kent State University Museum in 1989.

Interest in Mid-Century Modern, which began in the late 1990s and strongly continues today, has heightened interest once again in Vera’s designs. Vera received much acclaim during her lifetime and after… there are five words used repeatedly by many to describe Vera’s work: they are joy, bold, striking, vibrant and happy. Years come and go; taste in fashion changes, but these words will always be associated with the creative genius of Vera Neumann.

Vera Neumann: A Selling Exhibition at Doyle Palm Beach

On view Monday Friday, 10am 5pm through July 26.

Auctioneers & Appraisers
210 Brazilian Avenue
Palm Beach, Florida

Information or 561-360-2308

Jon King

Jon King

Vice President, Appraisal Department / Florida Regional Advisor