• First Open | Post-War and Cont auction at Christies

    Sale 12123

    First Open | Post-War and Contemporary Art | NY

    28 September 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 42

    Norman Bluhm (1921-1999)

    Unknown Nature


    Norman Bluhm (1921-1999)
    Unknown Nature
    signed and dated in another hand ‘NORMAN BLUHM 1956;’ titled in the artist's hand ‘UNKNOWN NATURE’ (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    51 x 76 1/2 in. (129.5 x 194.3 cm.)
    Painted in 1956.

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    Painted the year he moved to New York after almost ten years spent in Paris, Unknown Nature highlights the influence both cities had on Norman Bluhm’s style, as it is illustrative of the Cézanne-inspired landscapes that marked his time in Paris while hinting at the stylistic tendencies that have solidified Bluhm’s legacy as an influential figure in Abstract Expressionism. The jewel-like strokes of deep blue and green coalesce to form a leafy wash of color that extends to the ends of the canvas, appearing as if they could continue on into infinity. Underneath, warm pops of pink and yellow compliment the cool tones above it, materializing as an abstracted landscape, further evidenced through the downward drips and brushstrokes that evoke rain falling in a tropical forest. Together, these elements strike a beautiful balance of warm and cool and light and dark, creating a dynamic composition that pulses with energy and light. This dynamism is formed through Bluhm’s unique method of painting “light to dark,” a technique which was cultivated during this decade. This process involves placing the brightest colors on the canvas first, then proceeding to methodically layer the darker tones on top of each other. The finished painting results in a canvas that looks as if it has been lit from behind, providing a warm glow that envelops the canvas.


    Irving Galleries, Palm Beach
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

    Pre-Lot Text