Otto F. Bielefeld (1908 - 1982)

Birth date: 12/12/1908 Death date: 6/3/1982  
Birth location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Death location: Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin  
Media: Drawing , Graphic Art , Painting 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

Printmaker / Engraver and painter.


Otto F. Bielefeld
Born 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died 1982 in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
The youngest of four children, Otto Bielefeld was born to first generation Americans and lived his entire life in the Milwaukee area. In spite of being handicapped as a result of contracting polio in childhood, he pursued his ambition to become an artist.
After graduating from North Division High School in 1929, he continued his education at  Layton School of Art. Under the tutelage of  Robert Von Neuman, Myron Nutting, Emily Groom and Gerrit Sinclair, Bielefeld earned a scholarship in 1931 and completed studies there in 1934.
In 1936 during the Depression he worked for the Federal Government’s WPA (Works Progress Administration) program and produced copper plate etchings, linoleum and wood block prints. In the Rain, a block print, was included in a WPA print exhibition at the Smithsonian. Bielefeld was also known for his curvilinear landscape, genre and portrait paintings that reflected an interest in the activities of urban life. Beyond this he experimented with a non-objective style of works consisting of flat geometric shapes and machine-like forms.
After the 1940s he lost interest in producing his art and became fascinated with the science of meteorology; he spent the rest of his days building weather equipment and instruments. He died in 1982 while still living in the home in Whitefish Bay that he and his brother, Richard had designed for his special needs.  His artwork is represented in the collection of the Museum of Wisconsin Art.

Selected One-Person Exhibitions

2006 Otto Bielefeld Rediscovered, West Bend Art Museum, West Bend, Wisconsin

Selected Group Exhibitions

1932 Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors Exhibition, Wisconsin
Layton Portrait Show , Layton School of Art,
1934 Denver Printmakers Show, Denver, Colorado 
1935 Cleveland Print Club, Ohio 
1936 Wisconsin Centennial Art, 1836-1936 Exhibition 
Wisconsin Salon 
1938 State Fair, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1992 Early Wisconsin Ambiance: Environments & Landscapes by Wisconsin’s Early Artists 1880-1940, West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts [ Now known as Wisconsin Museum of Art]
2006 Otto Bielefeld Rediscovered, West
Bend Art Museum (now known as Museum of Wisconsin Art), West Bend, Wisconsin


Previous printed bios and file information, Museum of Wisconsin Art Archive, West Bend, Wisconsin.

Catalogue for exhibition, Otto Bielefeld, Rediscovered

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