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William J. Schwanekamp

(1893-1970)

Of all the Buffalo Print Club members, the three who truly stood out in the field of printmaking were Niels Andersen, Kevin O’Callahan and William J. Schwanekamp.  As a young man, Schwanekamp worked as a sign painter to earn money to attend the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy.  He later studied at the Boston Fine Arts Academy, earning his tuition by lettering boats in Boston Harbor.  He returned to Buffalo in 1915 and worked in the advertising firm of Batten, Barton, Durstein and Osborne.  He etched in his free time and during lunch hours.  His office was located in downtown Buffalo, which inspired the subjects of his prints: the city’s alleys and run-down buildings.

Considering himself a realist, Schwanekamp stated: “Art must bear a message and the message must be convened in a manner simple and direct.  There is beauty in volume and solid form; but the final results are not achieved by exaggeration, but by simplification.”