OSCAR BROUSSE JACOBSON was born on May 16, 1882, in Westervik, Kalmar Lan, Sweden. He emigrated to Lindsborg, Kansas, in 1890 and studied at Bethany College, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1908. He continued his studies at the Louvre in Paris, in Sweden, and in Denmark. In 1916 he received a master of fine arts degree at Yale University and in 1941 a doctorate of fine arts from Bethany College in Lindsborg. He worked as director of the School of Art at the University of Oklahoma (OU) from 1915 until 1954. He and his wife, Jeanne d'Ucel, had three children, Yvonne, Oscar, Jr., and Yolanda.
Jacobson's name is synonymous with early-twentieth-century art in Oklahoma. Educated in Europe and America, he tirelessly promoted all arts to the young state. One genre, traditional Plains Indian art, is now inexorably bound to him and to the University of Oklahoma. Because Jacobson held Indian people in good regard and treated them with respect, he became their champion and mentor. In the late 1920s he and professor Edith Mahier, also of the OU art school, worked with a small group of five Kiowa men and briefly with one Kiowa woman. These artists and their style became world famous and have always been associated with Oscar B. Jacobson. In addition, he founded the Association of Oklahoma Artists and formally advised the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project for Oklahoma in the 1930s.
Oscar B. Jacobson and five of the Kiowa Six artists. Image Courtesy of the Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. 1996.017.1039.13279
A prolific painter of Southwestern landscapes, Jacobson exhibited his work throughout the United States and Europe. He won numerous awards, including a Gold Medal at the 1931 Mid-Western Exhibition at the Kansas City Art Institute Invitational. He was made an honorary chief of the Kiowa tribe and was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1949. He lectured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, at the Chicago Art Institute, and at more than fifty universities and colleges. His works are held by the Woolaroc Museum at Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the Jacobson Gallery in Norman, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman. On September 15, 1966, he died in Norman.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Oscar Brousse Jacobson: Retrospective Exhibition, University of Oklahoma Museum of Art, September 17-October 8, 1961 [Exhibit Catalogue] (Norman: The Museum, 1961). "Oscar Jacobson," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Joy Belt Reed and Mark Everett, Early Oklahoma Artists and Master Teachers [Exhibition Brochure] (N. p.: JRB Art at The Elms, 2004).
Mary Jo Watson
THE HISTORIC JACOBSON HOUSE is located on the northwest corner of the campus of The University of Oklahoma at 609 Chautauqua in Norman, Oklahoma. Following the death of Dr. Oscar B. Jacobson in 1966, the House became rental property until it was gifted to the OU Foundation and then sold to the University. The University of Oklahoma planned to solve one of its pressing problems by demolishing the Jacobson House and providing more parking at this convenient location. Fortunately, a group of Norman people saw far more than a parking lot in the somewhat rundown residence and began work to preserve the House.
When Oscar and Jeanne Jacobson were building their home in 1916 and 1917, the shortages of World War I made everything difficult. They persisted and created a marvelous house. Several motifs are characteristically Swedish. The connecting door between the house and garage and the wooden scrollwork outlining the garage windows are a tribute to Jacobson's Swedish heritage. Stucco was a popular exterior finish in Sweden at the turn of the century. Classical columns and the gallery-like formal living space give the interior a timeless, sunny atmosphere experienced by all who enter. The back porch was perfect for its use to stage plays and performances by the mistress of the house. The House was then, as now, a wonderful gathering place and gallery for experiencing art and conversation. One can easily imagine the Kiowa Six singing and drumming to the enjoyment of a gathering of guests.
Jacobson designed this historic house in a very special way with numerous passive climate control features. He built it so that family and guests would never be separated from nature using French doors, deep porches, generous windows and elaborate gardens to bring the outdoors inside. It encourages use of the grounds as an extension of the living quarters.
THE JACOBSON FOUNDATION with a commitment to preserving the property and the legacy of Oscar Jacobson and his wife, Jeanne d'Ucel, while honoring the courage, talent, and achievement of the "Kiowa Six" and all the Native American art students, The Jacobson Foundation was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization. In 1986, the Foundation succeeded by seeing the Jacobson House placed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its unique architecture and role in the evolution and success of art in Oklahoma. It is on the Oklahoma Historical Society's Landmarks List and is documented with a State historical marker. The House stands as a living symbol of the spirit of every person. Arrell Morgan Gibson, the Oklahoma Historian, referred to the Oscar Jacobson legacy as "a preservation imperative". The Foundation operates the Jacobson House Native Art Center in the former residence of the Jacobson's. By bringing art exhibits, cultural activities, lectures, workshops and educational events to the public, the Jacobson House continues a tradition begun by the Jacobson's and their Native American student artists. That tradition recognizes art as the medium of human expression which embodies our values and spirit and has the capacity to convey those values and that spirit. That tradition gathers people together. Monroe Tsatoke said it best, "In the art of painting there is a new day dawning for the tradition is equipped with power and possibilities capable of immeasurable development. God has planted a tremendous hungering…for just such development…God surely would never plant a hunger he would not satisfy. The Indian's longing for power to achieve, to create, to do great things so his people will be better understood, will have a glorious realization in the future." (Circa 1938) In its articles of incorporation , the Foundation established the following purpose: "…To acquire and manage funding for the restoration and maintenance of the historic Oscar B. Jacobson House and grounds, to establish therein a Native American Cultural Center to showcase American Indian art and culture, to serve the public…" The Foundation's mission was well expressed by the noted Native American legal scholar, Rennard Strickland, in 1991: "In an age when events are driving us apart and splintering people along ethnic, racial, and economic lines, the Jacobson House stands as a cross-cultural bridge bringing people together to celebrate their unique strengths and shared values. The Jacobson Foundation uses the power of art and the work of artists to create understanding of traditional values in our evolving, ever-changing world. In an important way, the goals of Oscar Jacobson, the teacher, and the achievements of the Native Peoples with whom he worked are an example of how all people can work together to preserve and extend what the early Arapaho artist Carl Sweezy called 'the way people were meant to live.' Through its many activities, the Jacobson House hopes to capture this spirit."