Where Outsider Art Got a Warm Welcome Before It Was Cool

Show Us Your Walls
By Hilarie M. Sheets
Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz in their home in Philadelphia, with, in the foreground, from left, two William Edmondson sculptures, “Horse With Long Tail” and “Woman.” In the background, from left, on the wall, Justin McCarthy’s “Ice Capades” (1971) and a painting by Anselm Kiefer. The shelves of ceramics are the work of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein. Vases by Jill Bonovitz join his works on the third shelf, right.
PHILADELPHIA — Eugene Von Bruenchenhein never sold a piece of his art during his lifetime, but Sheldon and Jill Bonovitz have plenty of examples of it in their home near Rittenhouse Square. Among their prized ceramics by Von Bruenchenhein are fantastical little thrones some six inches tall, constructed from chicken bones salvaged from TV dinners; dazzling crowns; and lacy, tabletop towers. “When we moved here, we placed all the art first and then bought the furniture,” said Mrs. Bonovitz, surrounded by the work of Bill Traylor, Martin Ramirez, Howard Finster, Purvis Young and James Castle among other sought-after self-taught artists and some obscure ones. [More]
A closer look a the Bonovitzes’ collection of the work of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, a baker and self-taught ceramist.