Norman Bluhm - abstract expressionist - 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