Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis

This first retrospective of the American modernist Peter Blume since 1976 reveals Blume’s central role in the development of American modernism

  • <em>Tasso&#39;s Oak</em>, 1957-60, oil on canvas, 81 x 96 inches. Private collection, New York. &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

    Tasso's Oak, 1957-60, oil on canvas, 81 x 96 inches. Private collection, New York. © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • <em>The Rock</em>, 1945-48, Oil on canvas, 57 5/8 x 74 3/8 in., The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., 1956.338, Art &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

    The Rock, 1945-48, Oil on canvas, 57 5/8 x 74 3/8 in., The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., 1956.338, Art © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

  • <em>Vegetable Dinner</em>, 1927, Oil on canvas, 25 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

    Vegetable Dinner, 1927, Oil on canvas, 25 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • <em>South of Scranton</em>, 1930-31, Oil on canvas, 56 x 66 in., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, George A. Hearn Fund, 1942 (42.55) &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

    South of Scranton, 1930-31, Oil on canvas, 56 x 66 in., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, George A. Hearn Fund, 1942 (42.55) © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • <em>The Eternal City</em>, 1934-37, Oil on composition board, 34 x 47 7/8 in., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund, 1942, Art &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

    The Eternal City, 1934-37, Oil on composition board, 34 x 47 7/8 in., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund, 1942, Art © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

  • <em>Lilies</em>, 1938, Opaque watercolor over graphite pencil on paper, affixed overall to thick cardboard, 15 x 22 in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, The Hayden Collection - Charles Henry Hayden Fund, 41.264, Art &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

    Lilies, 1938, Opaque watercolor over graphite pencil on paper, affixed overall to thick cardboard, 15 x 22 in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, The Hayden Collection - Charles Henry Hayden Fund, 41.264, Art © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

  • <em>Landscape with Poppies</em>, 1939, Oil on canvas, 18 x 25 1/8 in., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1941, Art &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

    Landscape with Poppies, 1939, Oil on canvas, 18 x 25 1/8 in., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1941, Art © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

  • <em>The Italian Straw Hat</em>, 1952, Oil on paper on board, 22 1/4 x 30 3/8 in., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, The Schnakenberg Fund, 1955.32, Art &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

    The Italian Straw Hat, 1952, Oil on paper on board, 22 1/4 x 30 3/8 in., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, The Schnakenberg Fund, 1955.32, Art © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

  • <em>Winter</em>, 1964, Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in., Courtesy of Eric S. Brecher, Art &copy; Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

    Winter, 1964, Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in., Courtesy of Eric S. Brecher, Art © Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

  • <em>Recollection of the Flood</em>, 1967-69, Oil on canvas, 48 x 54 in., Collection of Dorothy Kobak, Art &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

    Recollection of the Flood, 1967-69, Oil on canvas, 48 x 54 in., Collection of Dorothy Kobak, Art © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

  • <em>Crashing Surf</em>, 1982, Oil on canvas, 30 x 50 in., Elisabeth and William Landes, courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, Art &copy; The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

    Crashing Surf, 1982, Oil on canvas, 30 x 50 in., Elisabeth and William Landes, courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, Art © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York

Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis is the first retrospective of the American modernist Peter Blume (1906-1992) since 1976. It includes 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 features sections that examine 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 considers 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.

Exhibition Programs:

Please visit the Exhibition Programs for Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis.

Beyond PAFA:

Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis will travel to the Wadsworth Atheneum, where it will be on view July 3 – September 20, 2015.

Catalog

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.

Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis

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