Miles McEnery Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of large-scale paintings from the 1970s by Norman Bluhm. The artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery will open on 28 July at 525 West 22nd Street and remain on view through 1 September 2022. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an essay by Zachary Ritter.
In 1977, Jane Livingston, Chief Curator of The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., stated “Norman Bluhm is a painter who remains apart from the diversions of recent art history. While he continues in a post-Abstract Expressionist vein, he is tenaciously independent and he will not avoid difficult change in his work. Bluhm is distinguished from his peers in many ways, one of which is that he seems to have decided that for himself the mark - that exalted touch, or stroke—was not enough.”
Beginning in the 1970s, and after more than two decades of experimentation and accomplishment, Bluhm arrived at an idiom of gestural abstract painting entirely his own. “In the years immediately following his arrival in New York, Bluhm produced paintings that are rich with the movement of their making, but which also show a real sophistication of structure: angular bursts of color across the canvas work as anchor points for the eye as it tracks Bluhm’s brush,” Ritter declares.
In 1970, Bluhm and his family left New York City for the town of Millbrook in upstate New York. “The city gave way to the countryside, and Bluhm was ready to leave his exploration of free-form, all-over compositions behind in favor of more sinuous, more sensuous, ways of constructing space.” The paintings in the exhibition display fluid forms with sharp contours, and complex compositions that seem to burst with improvisation, and zones of flat, unmodulated color that are delicately accented with whips and splatters of paint.
Ritter reveals, “The significance of the 70s for Bluhm’s art can be seen by looking backwards at what preceded it, but also forward at what was to come. His paintings from the 70s marked a watershed in his drive to bring a romanticism of the body into Abstract Expressionism, and the work that followed, in the 80s and 90s, would take this focus further, to extreme and often challenging ends.”
Norman Bluhm (b. 1920, Chicago, IL) attended the Armour Institute of Technology (now the Illinois Institute of Technology) and studied architecture under Mies van der Rohe. After serving in the Second World War, he decided not to continue his architectural studies and instead began to study art. First, he attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, Italy and afterward, the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France.
During his lifetime, Bluhm’s work was the subject of solo exhibitions at Washburn Gallery, New York, NY; Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; Zolla-Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL; Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, NY and Paul Kantor Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. He was also included in numerous group exhibitions at such venues as the Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport, CA; Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA; Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; the Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C.; Galerie Stadler, Paris, France; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA and The Parrish Art Museum, among others.
His work may be found in such permanent collections as the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX; The Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Wales; The Newark Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
Norman Bluhm died in 1999 at the age of 78 in East Wallingford, VT.