Gerhardt H. Bakker

Road to Cripple Creek, Colo., 1936
Wood engraving
4 x 5 in
SKU: 13945g
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Image Size: 4" x 5"

Paper Size: 10" x 7 1/8"

Frame Size: 12 3/8" x 13 1/2"


"Road to Cripple Creek, Colorado" is an original wood engraving by Gerhardt H. Bakker. The work, in stark black and white, represents the forlorn road through the town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. The image depicts the hardscrabble nature of the Depression-era town: dilapidated houses and run-down shacks. To add to the bad luck, an ominous storm cloud is about to rain down on the town. The coloration enhances the bleakness of the scene. The utility poles double as crosses that seem to oversee this graveyard of a place.


Gerhart Bakker's work covered a broad range of media: watercolor painting, drawing, and graphic arts in lithography, etching and block printing. In addition, he was a photographer, advertising designer, and illustrator. He won prizes in numerous exhibitions. 


Born in 1906 to Dutch parents in Germany, Bakker studied and taught at Gewerbeschule in Solingen. In 1930, at the age of 23, he moved to Milwaukee where he 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 or Art and started the Photography Department. Bakker also lived and shared studio space in the Plankinton Avenue Art Colony during these same years.


The artist 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 and industrial designer at the Baird Company before resuming his teaching career at the Layton School of Art. 


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, the Walrus Club--a Milwaukee Men's art organization--Wisconsin Printmakers, Prairie Printmakers, Southern Printmakers, Camera Craftsmen of America and the Parlot Society of America. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Historical Society of Wisconsin, WPA Biographical Sketches of Wisconsin Artists, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the West Bend Art Museum, the Wisconsin Union Art Collection, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Michigan, and the Wichita Art Museum. The artist died in 1988.