Monday, 31 October 2011

Norman Bluhm - part 1

Norman Bluhm (1921 – 1999) was an abstract expressionist of the second generation that came to fame in America. Bluhm took a circuitous route to becoming an artist. He studied architecture at the Armour Institute of Technology (now the Illinois Institute of Technology) under Mies van der Rohe for three years before he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in 1941.

After the war ended, Bluhm briefly returned to Chicago and in 1947, decided to devote himself to art rather than architecture. For a short time he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arte in Florence, but then settled in Paris from 1947-1956. There he attended both the Académie de la Grand Chaumière and the Ecole des Beaux Arts and came to know other artists like Alberto Giacometti and other modern painters. He also appeared in Jean Cocteau's film Orphee, as a handsome black-goateed intellectual sitting in a cafe reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In 1956 Bluhm moved to New York City and became a core member of the hard-drinking, hard-fighting crowd around the notorious Cedar Tavern, a now mythic high point of Manhattan bohemianism. A year after arriving in New York, Bluhm had his first solo show with the new Leo Castelli gallery, where he appeared with such contemporaries as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. He also began showing his works at other renowned galleries such as Martha Jackson in Manhattan and Galerie Stadler in Paris.

Bluhm returned to Paris in 1964 for a year before moving to East Hampton and, finally, remote Vermont. When he came to Manhattan it was to visit the Metropolitan and the Cloisters, whose 15th-century "Unicorn" tapestries were as major an influence as the works of Tiepolo, Rubens, Matisse or ecclesiastical stained glass.

Bluhm died in 1999. A 40 year retrospective was held in 2000 at the Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio along with the publication of the first full-length monograph, by Galleria Peccolo in Livorno.
In 2007, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston, Texas, organised a major exhibition under the title 'The Late Paintings of Norman Bluhm'. The Houston Press reported that The New York artist’s panoramic paintings are patterned like stained glass windows or mandalas, but the shapes inside are sexy while Garland Fielder's review at Glasstire mentioned that Bluhm’s paintings project such a life-affirming and honest candor, one cannot help but feel awash in a glow of spiritual joy.

1954 Noir 
oil on canvas

1955 Green 
oil on canvas

1956 Brûlure 
oil on canvas

1958 Bear Trail 
oil on canvas

1958 Untitled 
ink on paper

1959 Untitled 
ink, gouache and watercolour on cardboard

1960 Fallen Monument 
oil on canvas

1960 Untitled (triptych) 
gouache and ink on paper

1960 Untitled 
oil on canvas

1960 Untitled 
oil on paper

1961 Coney Island 
oil on paper

1961 Prohibition 
oil on paper

1962 Joan Crawford's Rage 
oil on canvas

1962 Snare 
oil on canvas

1964 Dry Ice 
watercolour and gouache on paper

1964 Untitled (No.5) 
acrylic on paper

1966 Untitled 
oil on paper

1967 Theodora 
oil on canvas

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Thomas Hart Benton - part 4 WWII

This is part four of a four-part post on the works of American 'Regionalist' artist Thomas Hart Benton. For biographical notes on Benton see part one.

US Navy Art Collection:
Benton was deeply moved by the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941, and shortly thereafter he completed "The Year of Peril," a series of grim and powerful war paintings financed by Abbott Laboratories. In 1943 he collaborated with Georges Schreiber in producing the Abbott Collection of Submarine Paintings, a project largely executed aboard the American submarine Dorado, which was later lost in action with all hands.

Later in the war, classified as a "camoufleur," Benton had to draw camouflaged ships that came into Norfolk harbour. His work was required for several reasons: to ensure that U.S. ship painters were correctly applying the camouflage schemes, to aid in identifying U.S. ships that might later be lost, and to have records of the ship camouflage of other Allied navies. Benton later said that his work for the Navy "was the most important thing, so far, I had ever done for myself as an artist."

(not dated) Barroom 
pen and ink with brown wash

1942 WWII Shipping Out

1943 Down the Lower Mississippi 
pen and ink wash

1943 Score Another for the Subs 
oil on board

c1943 All Work 
pen and ink wash

c1943 Loading the LST 
pen and ink wash

c1943 Look Out Below 
pen and ink wash

c1943 Preliminary Shake Down, New Orleans 
pen and ink wash

c1943 Salt and Steel 
pen and ink wash

c1943 This Way In 
pen and ink wash

1944 She's Off 

1944 Stow Her Away Mates 
pen and ink wash

1944 WWII Back Him Up

c1944 War Isn't All Mechanised 
pen and ink

c1944 Battle Stations Submerged 
ink wash

c1944 Bow Up 
pen and ink wash

c1944 Coffee and Chow 
pen and ink wash

c1944 Note Well 
pen and ink wash

c1944 On the Old Ohio 
pen and ink wash

c1944 (Unknown) 
pen and ink wash

c1944 Slumber Deep 

c1944 Stern Task 
pen and ink wash

c1944 This Way Out 
pen and ink wash

c1944 Up Periscope 
oil on canvas

c1944 Up the Hatch 
oil on pressboard

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Thomas Hart Benton - part 3 lithographs

This is part three of a four-part post on the works of American 'Regionalist' artist Thomas Hart Benton. For biographical notes see part one. During the 1930's Benton began to produce signed, limited edition lithographs which were sold at $5.00 each through the Associated American Artists galleries. He continued to make lithographs for the rest of his life. Part four will look at Benton's work during WWII.  
Note: sizes where given have been rounded up or down to the nearest whole centimetre:

1934 Minstrel Show 
23 x 30 cm

1936 Huckleberry Finn 
43 x 56 cm

1936 Jesse James 
42 x 56 cm

1937 A Drink of Water 
26 x 37 cm

1937 Going Home

1938 Approaching Storm

1938 Distress

1938 Edge of Town 
23 x 28 cm

1938 Haystack 
26 x 32 cm

1938 In the Ozarks 
26 x 33 cm

1938 Rainy Day 
22 x 34 cm

1938 The Poet 
23 x 31 cm

1939 Departure of the Joads 
33 x 47 cm

1939 Down the River (The Young Fisherman) 
32 x 25 cm

1939 Frisky Day 
20 x 30 cm

1939 Planting (Spring Plowing) 
25 x 32 cm

1939 Prodigal Son 
26 x 33 cm

1939 Shallow Creek 
36 x 24 cm

c1940 (Scene) 
24 x 32 cm

1941 Aaron 
33 x 24 cm

1941 Slow Train Through Arkansas 
25 x 32 cm

1942 The Race 
23 x 34 cm

1943 Letter from Overseas 
25 x 33 cm

1945 Island Hay 
25 x 32 cm

1946 Gate-side Conversation 
25 x 35 cm

1967 Ten Pound Hammer 
35 x 25 cm

1967 The Little Fisherman 
36 x 25 cm

1969 Discussion 
25 x 30 cm

1972 Forward Pass 
46 x 63 cm