Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis was the first retrospective of the American modernist Peter Blume (1906-1992) since 1976. It included 56 paintings and 103 drawings, revealing Blume’s central role in the development of American modernism and examining his impact on late 20th-century narrative painting.
Throughout his career, Blume crafted elaborate allegories that dramatize the growth of cities, the creative process, cultural memory, political power, and regeneration. A consistent theme in his work is metamorphosis -- whether in nature, manifested in dreamlike imagery, or as a working method traced in the numerous drawings and studies he made for compositions.
Blume was not a prolific painter but rather concentrated his efforts on a relatively small number of carefully conceived projects, each involving a long period of exploratory drawing. After 1930, Blume preferred to focus on ambitious, often large-scale, slowly developed paintings that explore multi-layered themes and express major concerns of the 20th century. Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis featured sections that examined several major projects that occupied Blume over many years. Blume developed these large-scale, meticulously designed paintings by thinking through drawing. Each was preceded by dozens of working drawings in a wide range of media made with surprisingly diverse approaches. Through this process, Blume discovered the formal structure and iconographic content of his major works, including Tasso’s Oak (1957-60) and The Rock (1944-48).
Drawing on a wealth of new scholarship in American modernism as well as numerous unpublished archival collections, Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis considered the relationship between automatic drawing and precise painting in Blume’s practice, his relationships with an international community of artists and writers, and the political background of his imagery. A hallmark of his work from all periods of his career is its capacity to carry multivalent meanings, always rooted in human experience, but privileging the transformative power of the imagination.
Please visit the Exhibition Programs for Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis.
Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis will travel to the Wadsworth Atheneum, where it will be on view July 3 – September 20, 2015.
This ambitious and visually dazzling book accompanies the first retrospective of Russian born American modernist Peter Blume (1906-1992) since 1976. Full of discoveries that will change the way we see Blume’s career, this book makes a strong case that Blume was critical to the development of modernism in America. Showcasing over two hundred paintings and drawings as well as sculpture, ephemera and archival photographs, Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis provides unprecedented insight into the artist's process and the origins of his profound visions of twentieth-century social and spiritual upheaval.
Presenting Foundation sponsor for Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis: The Henry Luce Foundation. Major support provided by the Boris Lurie Art Foundation.
Additional funding is provided by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, and the Armand G. Erpf Fund,with additional support from Eric Brecher, Mr. Jason Schoen, and the Tuttleman Family Foundation. Funding for the symposium on Magic Realists is provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
PAFA's special exhibitions in 2014-15 are supported by generous contributions from Linda Seyda and Bob Boris and Jonathan Cohen.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ public programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency).
General operating support provided, in part, by The Philadelphia Cultural Fund.