Lavera Ann Kempfer Pohl Mrs. William Pohl (1901 - 1981)

Birth date: 1/20/1900 Death date: 10/27/1981  
Birth location: Port Washington, Wisconsin Death location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin  
Media: Painting , Painting / W/C & Acrylic Web site:
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.

Biographical Brief

Painter, art historian, lecturer, art collector and Director-Milwaukee Art Institute.
Parents, Ernst L. Kempfer and Margaritte Retgere Kempfer
Spent childhood in Beloit, WI
1925, married William M. Pohl (12/24/1925) Milwaukee, Wisconsin, no children
1925-1939, lived in Siegburg, Germany, husband was President  of Kepec Chemical Corporation (now a division of Henkel Corporation, Oak Creek, WI)
1939, returned to live in Milwaukee, WI, Astor Hotel apartment and studio.
1951, studio located in Fine Arts building, Milwaukee, WI
1958, moved to Red Bank, New Jersey
1970, returned permanently to Milwaukee after her husband's death.
1981, cremated, Forest Home Cemetery (11/3/1981)
1918, Wisconsin School of Art studied with Alexander Mueller and Gustave Moeller and Elsa Ulbricht (later merged with Milwaukee State Teacher's College and now University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
1922, 1923, received scholarship to study, Saugatuck Summer School of Art, Michigan
1936-1938, wrote dissertation, Milwaukee State Teacher's College
1929-1930, Cologne Artisan School (Kölner Werkschulen), Germany, studied with Richard Seewald
1929-1930, studied with Hans Thuar, Germany
1933, PhD, University of Bonn, Germany, (Study of the History of Art)
Studied privately with George Oberteuffer
Summer classes, Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Work Experience:
1923, owned her own decorating business, Milwaukee, WI (and continued to paint)
1951-1955, Director of Milwaukee Art Institute (resigned in 1955 over disagreement about exhibition choices)
Art Organizations:
1951, Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors, Vice-president (Beaux Arts Ball WP&S Golden Jubilee year)
1943, designed medal for the WACS
Created sketches for murals, Karl Ratsch's German restaurant, Milwaukee, WI
1926-1939, wrote several articles for American Journals on contemporary German art and architecture
1933, Dissertation Die Entwicklung der Malerie in Amerika von 1913-1939 (The Development of Painting in America from 1913-1939)
1945, Feb.18, Milwaukee Journal, Sect.7 p.3, A Miller-Pohl Painting Show for New York
1951, Dec. 16, Milwaukee Sentinel, p.D7, LaVera Pohl Presides at Milwaukee Art Institute (Portrait of an Artist, Fifth in a Series)
1952, Feb. 24, Milwaukee Sentinel, p. D-5, Art and Artists, by Margaret Fish, Recalling Student Days
1952, July 13, Milwaukee Journal, Sect.7, p.5, Mrs. Pohl in Europe
Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin
Museum of Wisconsin art, West Bend, WI
City of Milwaukee Permanent Art Collection


La Vera Ann Kempfer Pohl
Born 1901 in Port Washington, Wisconsin
Died 1981 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A painter, art historian, and collector of fine art, La Vera Kempfer’s interest in art was first aroused by the nuns at her school, Holy Trinity Notre Dame Academy School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She attended high school in Beloit, Wisconsin after her family moved there, but eventually returned to Milwaukee in 1918 to study art under Alexander Mueller and Gustave Moeller at the Wisconsin School of Art (later merged with the Milwaukee State Teachers’ College).  Pohl also claims to have been instructed by George Oberteuffer at the Art Institute in Chicago.  In 1922, Kempfer received a scholarship to study art at the Summer School of Painting in Saugatuck, Michigan.  Upon graduating from the Milwaukee State Teachers’ College in 1923, she opened an interior decorating business.

Kempfer’s life and career changed course in 1925 when she married William M. Pohl and they moved to Europe until 1939.  There, she studied art at the Cologne Academy and art history in Florence and Bonn, and received a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Bonn in 1939.  During this period she also became involved with a group of Expressionist painters called Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Riders), and wrote for Industrial Arts Magazine and a book, American Painting.  After the start of World War II, Pohl and her husband returned to the United States.

Back in the U.S., Pohl showed her work a number of times in New York and Wisconsin.  In 1943 she received a prize for her watercolor exhibited at a show sponsored by the Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors, an organization that elected her vice-president in 1951.  Pohl’s work was also shown in the Wisconsin State Centennial Exhibition in Milwaukee in 1948.  Pohl’s career as an art historian escalated in 1951 when she became the director of the Milwaukee Art Institute until her resignation in 1955.

Represented in Selected Permanent Collections:
Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin
Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Affiliations

No affiliations were found.

Wisconsin Art Organizations

  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Instagram icon
  • Flickr icon
  • Youtube icon
  • E-News icon