Oswald Kurman

artist artwork
Born in 1900 into a wealthy mercantile family in Tallinn, Estonia, he studied art at Tartu University from 1916 to 1921.His father was the owner of a large ship-building business. When he moved to San Francisco in 1924 and worked as a commercial illustrator from 1928-1931, working for such well-known enterprises as the Southern Pacific Railroad, Standard Oil, and Sunset Magazine.In 1928, he was hired by Asarco Federated Metals where he eventually attained the position of Supervisor of incoming scrap metals.He then took night classes at the California School of Fine Art in 1931 where he met his future wife, artist Dorothy Winslade.Kurman was influenced by the controversial artist Diego Rivera, who stimulated his concern for the plight of the common man.

During the 1930s he worked mainly in watercolor, depicting buildings and industrial scenes in San Francisco and the Bay Area.Many of his oil paintings and etchings are dark portrayals of people he worked with in the metal factory, or those less fortunate who were jobless during the Depression.Often exhibited at the Oakland Museum and San Francisco Art Museum in the 30s and 40s, he was represented at the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1940.He discontinued exhibiting his work after 1951, and his style changed dramatically, consisting of pastoral scenes done in pastel.Upon retiring, he and his wife moved to Santa Cruz, California.Two tours of Europe followed, where he studied and photographed the art which inspired him, and made numerous sketches which were later painted in oil.His ability to work lessened during his wife's prolonged illness and eventual death in 1973.

When he re-married in the late 1970ís to Cecilia Richards (the sister of the Canadian sculptor Cecil Richards) he resumed painting in oils.He died in Santa Cruz in 1991 at the age of ninety-one.Kurman's work is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Bank of America World Headquarters in San Francisco, the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and The Oakland Museum.

His work has been exhibited at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1940's), The San Francisco Art Institute, The San Francisco International Art Expo (U.S. Art), The San Francisco Main Library (1996), The San Francisco Artists' Association, and The San Francisco Arts Commission.