Bluhm was one of the brightest and most gifted of New York’s Abstract Expressionists. During ten years living in Paris, he met and befriended Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Zao Wou-ki. Later in the 1960s he was championed by Michel Tapié and showed in Paris first with the innovative Galerie Anderson-Mayer and later with the highly respected Galerie Stadler. Bluhm entered the New York scene in 1956 where his art developed and matured alongside that of his close friends and contemporaries—Frank O’Hara, Michael Goldberg, David Smith, Salvatore Scarpitta, and Tom Hess, Editor of Art News. In New York he was well received and exhibited with Martha Jackson Gallery and Leo Castelli Gallery. By all accounts his brash, not arrogant, energy was his true self.
Bluhm’s odyssey is one that deserves being understood in its entirety. His paintings from the late 1950’s are well known and established within an all too familiar version of western art history. This show highlights a few phases of the artist’s journey; with an emphasis on the 1960s-perhaps the most direct and raw period of his working life. Paintings like Aglaonice
and Blue Dipper seem nearly sculpted in paint, the pigment thickened like
wax before it is cast in bronze, following the arcs of Alberto Giacometti’s
gnarly sculpted limbs and then the swirl of Matisse’s figures in his iconic
The Dance. The works in the early 1970s later blossom into a lush cornucopia
of color and form.
We all gain something from Norman Bluhm—his art, his energy, his perspective.
Never settling, always restless, Bluhm is an artist who never acquiesced; his
paintings in all of their raw energy and various transmutations are full of vigor.
He once made a difficult decision to part ways with the late, great Leo Castelli
over issues of personal and artistic importance. Some would say this was to his
own detriment, others would say he knew that integrity was of the utmost