Woldemar Neufeld was an artist primarily known for his oils, watercolors, and block prints. He spent his teen and young adult years in Canada, and most of his adult life in the U.S., but remained a beloved artist there, the subject of exhibitions in 2009 to celebrate the centenary of his birth. Neufeld was born in Waldheim, Russia, to a family of German Mennonite descent that immigrated to Canada in 1924 after his father was executed amid the political turmoil following the Russian Revolution and his mother remarried. He attended a preparatory school on what is now the Wilfred Laurier University campus followed by study at Ontario College of Art. He continued his studies at the Cleveland Institute of Art and earned a B.S. in art education from Case Western Reserve University.
In 1945, Neufeld moved from Cleveland to the Upper East Side of New York City, where he became known as the “artist laureate of the East River,” recording his impressions of the waterfront neighborhoods in oils, watercolor and block prints. He served as art director of the East River Artists from 1948 to 1975. In 1976, his works were shown in New York City at the South Street Seaport Museum in an exhibit titled “Yesterday’s Lower Manhattan.”
In 1949, Neufeld purchased a farm in New Milford, Connecticut, where he was based for the rest of his life, though he maintained a New York studio until 1980. In New Milford he opened a studio, gallery and — until 1965 — a summer art school, and focused his own artistic efforts on landscape painting inspired by the Housatonic River Valley countryside. He was a member of Connecticut’s Silvermine Guild and participated in their exhibitions including a one-person show in 1957.
Even after his death, Neufeld remains a popular artist in the Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto areas of Ontario where he spent his early years and associated with Canada’s leading artists as a young man in the 1920s and ’30s. The largest collection of his work — some 400 pieces — belongs to the Permanent Art Collection at Wilfred Laurier University, where he received an honorary doctorate in 1988. It has produced a catalog of his paintings and block prints, Woldemar Neufeld’s Canada: A Mennonite Artist in the Canadian Landscape 1925-1995 (2002). The City of Waterloo and Conrad Grebel College also hold collections of his work, some of which appear in the book Waterloo Portfolio: Woldemar Neufeld’s Paintings of Waterloo, Ontario (1982). His works are also in numerous American museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Condition: Generally fine overall, the colors bright, with minor toning, wear, handling.
Gilbert, Dorothy B., ed. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts and R.R. Bowker, 1959. p. 419.
Helsen, Marc Miquel. “Woldemar Neufeld Art Gets Its Own Gallery.” Woolwich and Wellesley Townships Observer. 19 June 2009. http://observerxtra.com/2/business/woldemar-neufeld-art-gets-its-own-gallery/ (31 May 2019).
“Neufeld, Woldemar Heinrich (1909-2002).” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1996-2019. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Neufeld,_Woldemar_Heinrich_(1909-2002) (31 May 2019).
“Woldemar Neufeld.” Wilfrid Laurier University, Robert Langen Art Gallery, Collections. 2011. http://www.wlu.ca/page.php?grp_id=12554&p=18143 (22 September 2011).
“Woldemar Neufeld 1909-2002.” Housatonic Valley Association. http://www.hvatoday.org/show.cfm?page=events/neufeldbio.htm&folder=events (22 September 2011).
“Work of Woldemar Neufeld displays Yesterday’s Manhattan in Whitinsville.” The Pulse Magazine. 28 August 2018. http://thepulsemag.com/wordpress/2018/08/work-of-woldemar-neufeld-displays-yesterdays-manhattan-in-whitinsville (31 May 2019).