Peter Blume (1906-1992)

Nov 6, 2014 - Feb 14, 2015
Installation Views
Press release
ACA Galleries is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition, PETER BLUME (1906-1992), on view November 6, 2014 through February 14, 2015.  The exhibition will feature paintings, drawings and sculpture from the artist’s estate. 
Concurrent with the ACA Galleries exhibition is the first Peter Blume retrospective since 1976, Nature and Metamorphosis, organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Philadelphia (November 14, 2014 – April 5, 2015).  This exhibition will travel to the Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, CT (June 27 – September 20, 2015).  Catalogue will be available. 
Peter Blume’s modernism embodies the clashing contradictions of the 20th Century: abstract complexities with nostalgia for a simpler past; the rush of urban living with the yearning for a lost pastoral life; the cold reality of politics with the quest for spiritual meaning in a world ravaged by two world wars and a ruinous economic depression.  By embracing the irreconcilable, Blume transcends Modernist art’s conventional aspirations to re-define order in a chaotic world.  His oeuvre is metamorphosis itself, a realm where paradox rules.  Within that clash Blume found profound meaning and sublime beauty.
Blume’s deep knowledge of art history holds these disparate elements together.  We see the elegance of Renaissance rendering, the balance and figurative perfection of Classical antiquity, the rule-breaking energy of Modernism, and the spontaneity of folk art.  The latter reflects his Russian Jewish roots and his embrace of the culture of his adopted land, America.  Together with his understanding of the emotional properties of color, the structural backbone of architecture, and the physicality of sculpture, Blume was able to corral these elements into a surreal narrative.
Adding richness to Blume’s already complex mix of influences was his involvement with metaphysical experimentation.  His interest in Automatism and “automatic writing” found its way into his preliminary studies for paintings and his works on paper in particular, where he allowed his hand to move spontaneously across a surface.  The results are dynamic works of flowing lines and exciting shapes existing in metaphysical tension, where the physical facts of the world meet the whispered secrets of the mind and spirit.
In a life that spanned nearly the entirety of the 20th Century, Blume’s art recorded not the dry facts of that century but the soul of it, its struggles against incomprehensible violence, and its triumphs of survival over man-made madness. This achievement won Blume critical acclaim throughout his career, winning a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Carnegie International Prize in the 1930s.  His work is represented in major public and private collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Smithsonian Institution of American Art in D.C.; Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh; Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.