Has anyone heard of this guy before? I just found some stuff on him online, basically by accident. Friend of Joan Mitchell, once collaborated with Frank O’Hara on some poem-paintings. Hater of art dealers. Died just before a major retrospective of his work was mounted.
Mid 70’s to mid 80’s paintings are tasty. The work from the late 90’s is similar and structurally kinda wild.
I had the priviledge of knowing Norman Bluhm during the last few years of his life while I lived in New York. He was kind enough to give me some advice during that time. He was something of an art hero in that he stuck to his guns in making real art despite changes in trends. As the great painter, Knox Martin, says the real cutting edge of art is that which has descended from a long tradition of creating reality. In that sense, Norman was on the cutting edge of art.
In addition to that he was also a hero of world war II. He was a B=26 bomber pilot and flew many missions in North Africa and Europe and, most notably, the famous mission over Romania that destroyed the last oil supply of the Nazis at the cost of about 75% of American bomber crews. It is my understanding that Norman’s plane was shot up and he crash landed and was rescued by Soviet troops but he was seriously wounded in the process.
If you wish to know more about him, check out the book written by James Harithas and others. Also you may note, if you care to register with one of the services that keeps records on auctions, that his auction record is climbing rapidly and has reached well into six figures.
Guess no one else is that interested…but then, it’s kind of just finding a painter who was a crony of a bunch of classic AbEx limelighters. Not exactly hidden…
The mid-career paintings remind me of was what several of the older TU students were doing when I was first there. House paint on masonite, interesting color harmonies usually found incidentally, based on what paint they could get.
there are a lot of people looking at the post, just no one speaking up. it is a little difficult to summon up quite enough of a context. there are some big gaps in chronology. the artnet.com page is better; the longest gap is 4 years between paintings. the paintings that look like wallpaper patterns meet long intestines seem pretty ahead of their time. especially the sweet sickly coloration. i think there are several people doing these rorshach-y things now, too.
Having a superficial understanding of Raph Rub’s preferences, I can understand why he likes this.
It may be that no artists can be important in the same way as the early modernists like Cezanne. It may be that the structure of “influence” and “importance” have changed. not sure where I’m going here. . .
I can imagine someone criticizing Bluhm for a have yer cake and eat it two gestural softenting of the agressively decorative vapidity of say Lari Pittman or Christopher Wool (don’t mean these as negatives, necessarily).
but i would disagree, esp since Bluhm came first.
So Bluhm seems to have made a significant formal leap indeed, if you think of Mitchell and De Kooning maintaining the shallow cubist-derived jumble. Bluhm seems of course not “flatten” in a Greenbergian Color field manner, but rather to PUSH? or compress and insist on the associative nature of the forms. They LOOK LIKE something (art nouveau botanical ornament or alien intestines) in a way that even DeK’s organs and teeth don’t quite embrace.
I’m surprised more people aren’t weighing in on this, but they must be better at managing their time.
Yes. The departure from the AbEx tower is Guston-ish in a way. The sizes and shapes, the easy visual associations, the lack of anguished touch (or equally rigorous geometry).
The 21st century’s Cezanne may not be a painter.
Another way to shade Rubinstein’s comment would be that when 21st century artists tap into AbEx, the result may wind up looking more like Bluhm’s work than any of the usual canon. The one above makes me think of Cecily Brown.
not uninterested, just blown away. it’s a similar feeling to how i felt when i discovered hyman bloom, out of the blue. feels like it fills in some gap i didn’t realize had been filled so long ago. i really, really dig the late works. gotta find a book.
Those flattened intestiny ones are great. I’d try to say more, but am mentally rattled (came home to a burglary in progress today- a keystone cop chase ensued, with the burglars on foot, and my drunken neighbors chasing them by car all over the neighborhood).
We are working on a more representative website.
On the subject of artists who do not get the recognition they deserve how about other contemporaries and friends: Constantino Nivola, Reuben Nakian, Salvatore Scarpitta, Zao Wou Ki….
I’ve got to backtrack, so there’s no confusion: there’s way, way more going on with these than anything cooked up by my peers in undergrad. The late works are incredible. I like VC’s word choice: have your cake and eat it too. That’s what they feel like.
these ARE great.
i think J. McGarrell’s most recent works share an affinity.
Bluhm does a fantastic job at making powdery cooled-off colors have the simultaneous (very forward) presence of being both volume and light…
something which seems idiosyncratic against the more hot cad-colors…which strangely occupy a more nuetral (un-pushy) painting space. it’s brave and innovative painting.
at first glance they really made me keep coming back to matisse. (obviously)
…you know, essenhigh and bacon owe something to these. sue williams, too.
it’s interesting to me how clear and yet how chaotic they feel. there’s some play in the linear, trilling elements against really kind of dense, innovative fields or areas of color. again, just that push between edge flatness and volume of color as form and space…
Just because he’s kind of under-known and I saw him give a really entertaining talk once, I’ll add Giles Lyon to the list. He was doing some rorschach things a few years ago. He would paint half of an unstretched canvas and fold it over to make an impression on the other side, then continue going at it.
I too really love these paintings. My first reaction was that Inka Essenhigh owes a lot to this work. I also keep thinking of Lari Pittman. I keep trying to think of a way to categorize these and all I can come up with (for the later work) is that they are a fusion of Ab-Ex, Pattern and Design, and Pop Art.
These paintings keep getting better to me. About 75% of the things we put up I get bored with after a few days of looking at them, but I keep liking Bluhm’s paintings more.
I think that the reasons why have already been said. vc’s thought that the late paintings encourage association. jen’s idea that there seems to be some internal conflict between colors and between spaces, too.
a story: i went with a student group to the st louis art museum in march, and they had scheduled a docent led tour. the therapist/docent stood us in front of a Rothko and told us how we were then having a pure, spiritual and divine moment, divest of internal conflict and unnecessary association. basically all the reasons that make me not look at or think about rothko. i know rothko is great and all, but people keep selling it to me like this, and it drives me away.
i kept looking across the room at the abstract guston thinking how glad i was that it just couldn’t be processed that way.
bluhm’s late paintings seem much the same to me. better for not being easily processed. let the docents keep walking by!
…and, i kind of figure that rothko would have been a happier guy and had a happier ending if his works were really all that full to the brim with divinity, sublimity, and spirituality.
but, that’s just my two cents…
Joy is where you find it. I concede that Rothko is humorless, but i find him thrilling. I am not obligated to accept his dour persona.
but what about humor? there is no humor in the very surface and object of rothko, true, but the whole story is hilarious in the way that all tragedy is. Is there humor in sex? in death? There is great humor AROUND sex and death, but IN them? I think it’s the same w/ rothko. anyway, I am not bored by him.
The paintings from the late seventies onwards he seems to suddenly embrace this baroque sense of camp. The artifice feeds the emotion which in turn feeds the artifice. The color is kind of great and the bravado of the lines is kind of breathtaking. The only AbX I feel he resembles though is Lee Krasner but with a much more playful approach. I can see shades of this all of a sudden in Cecily Brown, although she is obviously a lot more cunningly vicious.
The off centred symmetry is quite clever in some of the images from the nineties, maybe a bit too clever for me.
Thank you David B. for mentioning Daddy, as well as Sam K. for adding a link to find out about Daddy. Greatly appreciated. My sister Lola and I are trying to keep Daddy represented, and are in the process of creating a comprehensive website for him at http://www.salscarpitta.com or http://www.salvatorescarpitta.com. Please take a look in the next few months, we would love to hear what people think about it. Good luck to all! Again many thanks!