|Place of Birth||Graz, Austria|
|Place of Death||Vienna, Austria|
|Birth Name||Emma Schwarzbauer|
Born in Graz, Austria, Vevean Oviette’s given name was Emma Schwarzbauer. She first traveled to the United States in 1923 and crossed the Atlantic several times during her twenties and early thirties, alternatively listing her professional affiliation as a creative one—singer or artist—or as a governess.1 By 1936, she changed her name to Vevean Oviette for unknown reasons—no marriage is known, and the artist never explained.2 It is at this point that her artistic activities increased substantially.3 Oviette studied at the Art Students League with George Bridgman (1938) and at the Franklin School of Fine and Applied Arts, New York (1938-40), using her training immediately thereafter as a newspaper illustrator in Dallas, Texas.4 Back in New York by 1942, Oviette pursued additional coursework at the Art Students League, enrolling in the Fashion Sketch Class—at points in her career, she worked as a fashion illustrator—and commercial design with Howard Trafton. After the war’s conclusion, Oviette shifted her focus to the fine arts and traveled to Paris to study with Fernand Léger, who remembered her quite clearly in a statement he gave for her first duo show at the Argent Gallery in 1948: “She deserves all your attention and care for she has a lot to say.”5 Upon her return to New York in 1946, she focused her energies on training in the graphic arts, pursuing instruction in lithography with Adja Yunkers at the New School for Social Research (ca. 1946-9), lithography and etching with Will Barnet at the League (1946), and engraving with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17. Although there are no specific dates for her association with Atelier 17, it is likely she was there towards the end of the decade given the dating of her known intaglio prints and participation in the studio’s group show at the Laurel Gallery (1949). As evidenced by prints like Kopfstudie (head study) and the reviews of her 1948 show at Argent Gallery, Oviette built her semi-abstract still lives, landscapes, and figure studies through line and tone.6 So excited was she by engraving that she actually voyaged to Paris to study with Hayter’s teacher, Josef Hecht, before his death in 1951. Oviette entered her prints into four Brooklyn Museum annuals (1949, 1950, 1952, 1955) and other regional exhibitions. Bertha Schaefer Gallery gave her a solo show in 1954, featuring works she had made during travels to Austria and the south of France. In the late 1950s, Oviette worked at Condé Nast as an illustrator for Vogue and taught at Parsons School of Design. Ultimately, she returned to the country of her birth—even though she had become a naturalized American citizen in 1945—and became a member of the Secession Graz.
Artist file, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
“About Art and Artists.” New York Times, September 17, 1954.
J. K. R. “Fantasies and Nudes.” Art Digest 22 (March 15, 1948): 23.
Jungwirth, Kurt, Wilfried Skreiner, Werner Fenz, Richard Rubinig, Emil Breisach, Horst Gerhard Haberl, Dein Erhard Kargel, and Dein Lojen. Vevean Oviette: Werke 1944-1980. Graz, Austria: Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, 1981.
L. C. “Vevean Oviette.” Art News 53 (October 1954): 59.
Oviette: Paintings. New York: Bertha Schaefer Gallery, 1954.
Skreiner, Wilfried. Vevean Oviette, Graphik. Graz, Austria: Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, 1967.
- Oviette’s petition for naturalization, dated March 5, 1942, is quite helpful in reconstructing her early travels. Petition for Naturalization, No. 415846, National Archives and Records Administration, Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009, Record Group Number: RG 21. In a very strange coincidence, Oviette and the famed German-American art historian Erwin Panofsky were both passengers on the S. S. Lafayette arriving in New York on September 11, 1936. ↩
- In the United States, the artist’s first name is often Anglicized as Vivian, while in German contexts it is spelled Vevean. ↩
- The most comprehensive sources of information about Oviette’s career come from two museum catalogues: Wilfried Skreiner, Vevean Oviette, Graphik (Graz, Austria: Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, 1967); Kurt Jungwirth et al., Vevean Oviette: Werke 1944-1980 (Graz, Austria: Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, 1981). ↩
- Student registration card, Art Students League of New York. ↩
- Argent Gallery invitation to Vevean Oviette: Drawings, Gouaches, Pastels, March 1-13, 1948. Artist file, Museum of Modern Art, New York. ↩
- J. K. R., “Fantasies and Nudes,” Art Digest 22 (March 15, 1948): 23. ↩