Bernard Steffen


Bernard Steffen was noted for his prodigious output of work as part of the WPA program. A native Kansan born in Neodesha, Steffen enlivened United States Post Offices in the Midwest from 1934 to 1941 with murals depicting local history. Some of these murals were in the towns of Hutchinson, Seneca, Sabetha, and Horton, Kansas and in Paris, Missouri.

Steffen studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and at the Art Students League where one of his instructors was Thomas Hart Benton. Benton became a mentor to Steffen and encouraged his chosen subject matter because it was close to the philosophy that American artists needed to reflect the area in which they lived. Although not as well – known as some of the Regionalists, Steffen’s work hung along with that of Benton, Curry, and Wood in Regionalist exhibitions.

Lithography was a prominent medium during the WPA years and Bernard Steffen became a skilled lithographer producing images that were simple, but had powerful shapes and dramatic contrasts of light and dark. One can see Benton’s influence, yet Steffen developed a style that was his own. He translated many of his lithographs into color silkscreen prints.

His lithography and silk screen prints are in the collections of The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, University of Michigan Art Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Block Museum at Northwestern University. Many of his prints are part of the Library of Congress collection.

Stone lithograph
Signed in pencil in the margin
Image size 9 5/8” x 12 7/8”
Framed size 16 5/8” x 19 ¾”
Excellent condition