Photography, Dance, and Difficult Decisions

In modern dance, the American Martha Graham (1894-1991) comes to mind as the leader. But in Germany, the iconic name in contemporary dance was Mary Wigman (1886-1983), who studied under the Swiss teacher, Rudolf Laban. In 1919 she performed her first Expressionist Dance and in 1920 opened her dance school. Graham was introduced to the…

A Look into a 1947 Fasching Party (Happy Mardi Gras!)

Happy Mardi Gras! Recently the archive received a request for information and images of Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968), a German painter, that ended in uncovering an image of a Fasching Party (Mardi Gras) from 1947. Surprisingly we didn’t have much on Nay when information was requested on him. Surprising, because he was so often at…

A Request for Information on Ewald Mataré

Ever wonder what types of materials are requested from the Fontaine Archive and where they may be used? This week we received a request for images of artist Ewald Mataré (1887-1965) from the director of the Germany’s Museum Kurhaus Kleve, which owns the representative collection of Mataré works. Continue reading to learn more about Mataré’s…

The Milwaukee women adventurers – expatriates: Polly Coan and Virginia Fontaine

In Virginia Fontaine’s effort to work while her husband, Paul, was at war in Italy (building and destroying bridges with the Army Corp of Engineers), she assisted the director of the Milwaukee Art Institute (now Milwaukee Art Museum), Polly Coan (1919-2015) (later Frances Nemtin). Polly, a Bryn Mawr graduate, had the most extraordinary upbringing in…

Deciphering Guestbook Signatures

Deciphering the signatures in the Fontaine guestbooks held in the Fontaine Archive collection is a fun game. Who were these people? Were they important? Or notorious? Are they still alive or are their heirs? Maybe they would like to know where and what their parents were doing in the 1950s in Germany? Fortunately we can…

On the Eve of International Holocaust Memorial Day

In advance of January 27th’s International Holocaust Memorial Day, here is a first account on what Europe was like right after World War II.  Virginia wrote, “In 1946-47, the roads were clogged with refugees walking and pulling carts from East Germany to West Germany. It was the coldest winter in about 100 years—even the Rhine…

Welcome to the Fontaine Archive

View all posts Stay up to date with exhibitions, blog posts, and special events! For researchers, collectors, and art enthusiasts For researchers: The Fontaine Archive contains the writings and photography of Virginia Hammersmith Fontaine (1915-1991) and information about the life and paintings of Paul Emile Fontaine (1913-1996). The collection of documents and rare images is…

Trusted Eye:Post-World War II Adventures of a Fearless Art Advocate

Trusted Eye: Post–World War II Adventures of a Fearless Art Advocate is a compelling narrative of an American wife and mother finding her place amid the rubble of war-torn Germany. Virginia Fontaine fought continually for recognition—as a woman, a photographer, an art curator, and, perhaps most importantly, a liaison between beleaguered German artists and the…