|Hyman Bloom Last Still Life|
oil on canvas, 56 x 46 in.
Hyman Bloom Rabbi Holding Torah
oil on canvas, 56 x 40 in.
If Bloom’s rabbi portraits are key examples of his spiritual work, his still-life paintings are unquestionably more personal and reflect his personal tastes. In these still-life paintings, we see collections of carnival glass—glass vessels with very high-keyed color—which Bloom loved to collect and which evidently attracted him because many of them had the same bold colors seen in his works. Along with many other pieces of exotica, Bloom was a connoisseur of exotic fabrics, and in each still life, he places a large piece of fabric hanging like a spectre over the glassware, thus creating a scene that is at once vibrant and in some ways, haunting.
Hyman Bloom was a major figure in mid-20th century American art. Bloom was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Latvia and in 1920, he emigrated with his family to the United States. He lived most of his life in Boston and is known as a founder of the school of painting that came to be known as Boston Expressionism. Bloom and Jack Levine (1915–2010) were both influential in the emergence of Boston Expressionism. Levine tended to focus more on humor and social commentary, while Bloom devoted himself to painting the spiritual as well as personal.
At first, Bloom was associated with the growing Abstract Expressionist movement. William de Kooning and Jackson Pollock—who first saw Bloom's work at an exhibition in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)—considered Bloom "the first Abstract Expressionist artist in America”. Bloom's still-life, figural, and landscape paintings with their vibrant colors and expressive brushwork have influenced many other artists who followed in his footsteps in Boston and beyond. Bloom achieved considerable acclaim before the age of 30: in 1942, thirteen of his paintings were included in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition "Americans 1942: 18 Artists from 9 States", curated by Dorothy Miller. MoMA purchased Bloom's The Bride and The Synagogue from that exhibition for its collection. In 1950, Bloom, along with Pollock, de Kooning, and Gorky, were among a small group of artists selected to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale.
Today, Bloom's paintings and large scale drawings can be found in the collections of MoMA, Boston's Museum of Fine Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum, The National Academy of Design, and several other institutions across the country.
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