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Hyman Bloom: Matters of Life and Death
Text by Erica E. Hirshler, Naomi Slipp.
Themes of mortality and spirituality in the long-neglected art of a midcentury American pioneer“Bloom’s unsettling paintings are fueled by a sense of existence as a state of spiritual emergency and of art as a means for transfiguring fear.” –Holland Cotter, Art in America
Hyman Bloom was a contemporary of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Arshile Gorky. This new study focuses on Bloom’s paintings and drawings of human corpses, anatomical studies and archeological excavations from the 1940s and 1950s. He often returned to these subjects throughout his career, using thickly applied paint in rich colors as he aspired to present both the physical and the spiritual on canvas.
Insightful curatorial essays accompanied by beautiful full-color reproductions explore this difficult but compelling work, considering themes such as the life, death and rebirth of Bloom’s artistic reputation; the growing divide between figuration and abstraction at this defining moment of American art; earlier artistic traditions of representing mortality; the relationship between these works and Bloom’s Judaism, interest in Eastern religions, and belief in reincarnation; and the artist’s desire to find beauty and meaning within death and decay. In these drawings and paintings, as Bloom himself asserted, “the paradox of the harrowing and the beautiful [can] be brought into unity.”
Hyman Bloom (1913–2009) was born in Lithuania, now Latvia. He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1920, escaping anti-Semitic persecution. He lived and worked in the Boston area until his death. His work is held in many public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Whitney Museum of American Art and others.
Hyman Bloom, "Pompeiian Glass," 1948. Current location unknown. Photograph courtesy of Robert Alimi.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
[Hyman Bloom's] vital, vivid paintings of the human body in life and death exist in that taut place between seductive and revolting, between beautiful and terrifying, which is to say, that edge up against the sublime.
The paintings, along with a selection of dazzling, large-scale drawings, are the subject of a superb, long-awaited [show and monograph,] “Hyman Bloom: Matters of Life and Death."
Hyman Bloom blurred the boundaries between figurative and abstract painting during the late 1930s. He abandoned what was easy and instead punted for the difficult.
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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 7/13/2019
Hyman Bloom's gorgeous, shocking 1948 "Self-Portrait" is reproduced from Matters of Life and Death, published to accompany the major MFA Boston exhibition that opens this weekend, with a focus on the artist's largely overlooked paintings and drawings of autopsies, anatomical studies and archaeological excavations from the 1940s and 1950s. "Bloom's compelling images of corpses and cadavers are the most distinctive and provocative works he created," curator Erica E. Hirshler writes. "They force us to confront matters of life and death, to understand, as Bloom would have wished, that there are indeed aspects of human existence that survive the mortality of the body. Art is one of the things that lasts beyond the span of a life. And for that alone, Bloom's reputation deserves to be resuscitated." continue to blog
MFA PUBLICATIONS, MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON
USD $40.00 | CAN $55 UK £ 30
Pub Date: 7/23/2019
Active | In stock
USD $55.00 | CAN $75 UK £ 45
Pub Date: 4/23/2019
Active | In stock