Conrad Buff Biography

Conrad Buff



Conrad Buff (1886-1975), painter, muralist, printmaker, and illustrator, was born in Speicher, Switzerland. His father was an alpine farmer who recognized his son’s talent and sent him to the School of Arts and Crafts in St. Gallen, where the youthful Buff was trained as a designer of lace.

 At eighteen Buff paid his tuition to a private art school in Munich but an abbreviated year of study was followed by his immigration to the United States in 1905. An itinerant farm hand, Buff roamed the countryside working his way from Wisconsin dairy farms to Wyoming ranches before settling in Los Angeles in 1906. He married Mary Marsh, also an artist and a curatorial assistant at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, in 1922. Buff illustrated several of the children’s book she authored, including Dancing Cloud, the Navajo Boy. 

 He painted murals for the WPA and he first tried his hand at lithography during the depression. Working closely with printers Lynton Kistler and Paul Roeher, Buff experimented with color lithography and the transferring of his imagery to offset plates. Buff love the desert landscape and often joined Maynard Dixon on painting excursions to the deserts of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

 He was a member of the California Art Club and his paintings were featured in three solo exhibitions at the Los Angeles Museum of Art. Buff was included in the exhibition of Public Works of Arts in Los Angeles in 1934, the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, the 1939 New York Worlds Fair, as well as numerous regional exhibitions where his work won several awards. He is represented in the collections of the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Detroit Art Institute, National Gallery of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the San Diego Museum.