Known as a “Jack-of-all-Arts and Master of Many,” Gerhard Bakker’s work covered a broad range of media: watercolor painting, drawing, and graphic arts in lithography, etching and block printing. He was photographer, advertising designer, illustrator and prize winner in numerous exhibitions.
Born to Dutch parents in Germany, he studied and taught at Gewerbeschule in Solingen. In 1930, at the age of 23, he moved to Milwaukee. He subsequently studied under Gerrit V. Sinclair at the Layton School of Art. As the Depression deepened in the United States, he joined the faculty of the Layton School of Art and started the Photography Department. Bakker also lived and shared studio space in the Plankinton Avenue Art Colony during these same years.
Bakker was involved with the Public Works Arts Project in 1933-34. In 1934 he studied at the Broadmoor Art Academy in Colorado Springs under Boardman Robinson, Ward Lockwood and Tabor Utley. After returning to Milwaukee he was a mechanical engineer at the A.O Smith Corporation and Industrial Designer at the Baird Company before resuming his teaching career at Layton School of Art. Bakker was also represented in the Wisconsin Artists Calendar 1937 and 1938 and the Calendar of Wisconsin Art 1940 and 1941.
A constant exhibitor in major Wisconsin and national art and photography shows, Bakker often won prizes for his entries. He was a member of Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors, Walrus Club a Milwaukee Men’s Art Org., Wisconsin Printmakers, Prairie Printmakers, Southern Printmakers, Camera Craftsmen of America and Parlot Society of America. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Historical Society of Wisconsin, WPA Biographical Sketches of Wisconsin Artists, Milwaukee Art Museum, West Bend Art Museum, Wisconsin Union Art Collection - UW-Milwaukee, and the Wichita Art Museum.
Selected One-Person Exhibitions
Milwaukee Art Institute
Selected Group Exhibitions
WI Painters & Sculptors Nineteenth annual Exhibition, Milwaukee Art Institute (also 1936)
Federal Public Works of Art Project Exhibition, Corcoran Gallery of Art
9th annual Exhibition of American Blockprints, Wichita Kansas Museum (prize winner)
International Print Show, Chicago Art Institute
Denver Art Museum (prize winner)
1936 Wisconsin Centennial Art
A Century Plus of Wisconsin Watercolors, Milwaukee, WI
150 Years of Wisconsin Printmaking