Newark Museum of Art Exhibtion Showcasing Abstract Expressionism Painter Norman Bluhm

Feb 11, 2020

A work by Norman Bluhm dated 1987, with poetry written by John Yau.
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

The Newark Museum of Art exhibition is called Norman Bluhm: Metamorphosis.  It features five decades of art with pieces dating back to Bluhm’s time in France from the late 1940’s, New York abstract expressionism paintings of the 50’s, and even a number of late works finished before Bluhm’s death in 1999.

“Abstract expressionism was a movement that privileged the gesture.  The artists would fling paint and create works that embodies their own personality.  Bluhm became part of the movement and he’s best known for that,” said Jay Grimm, guest curator of Norman Bluhm: Metamorphosis.  “Over time, even though he loved abstract expressionism and the slashing gesture, the female figure crept in.  By the end of his career, it was an over-influence.  If you look at the very largest painting in the show, Persephone which came from 1995, it’s a huge three panel piece we call a triptych.  There are countless numbers of figures in there.”

“It’s really him pulling from some fifty years of painting abstract, figural, and ornamental forms,” said Tricia Bloom, curator of American Art at the Newark Museum of Art.

A triptych, 'Persephone' by Norman Bluhm 1995.

Bluhm also had a love of classical and jazz music.  Exhibit curators Jay Grimm and Tricia Bloom say the artist painted to a soundtrack, and even spoke of an exhibition where a string quartet would perform live to accompany his work.  While that won’t happen at the Newark Museum of Art, the curators say visitors are treated to a first of its kind chronological layout of work from a great American painter.

Norman Bluhm: Metamorphosis at the Newark Museum of Art opens to the public on February 13th.