Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis
July 3–September 20, 2015
“[This exhibition] brings back to light a fascinating, singular artist and career.” –Ken Johnson, New York Times, January 15, 2015
Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis was the first retrospective of the American artist Peter Blume (1906–1992) since 1976. Organized by Robert Cozzolino, Ph.D., Senior Curator of Modern Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the exhibition revealed Blume’s central role in the development of American modernism and examined the artist’s impact on late 20th-century narrative painting. The exhibition was shown at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art from July 3 to September 20, 2015.
Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis also considered Blume’s relationships with a community of artists and writers, many of whom were friends and neighbors in Sherman, Connecticut, where he settled in 1930.
In addition to the paintings and drawings by Blume that appeared in Nature and Metamorphosis, the Wadsworth Atheneum presented a selection of works from its permanent collection titled, Visions from Home: Surrealism in Connecticut—a companion installation of works by important artists with whom Blume had close ties and regular contact in Connecticut. This included the American artists Alexander Calder and Kay Sage, and European painters Arshile Gorky and Yves Tanguy. Taken together, this pairing of Blume’s works with that of his peers invited visitors to explore how this artistic circle—which also extended to writers, poets, collectors and important art dealers—exchanged ideas and influenced one another and how the environment of Connecticut directly impacted their work.
The Wadsworth Atheneum proudly served as the only additional venue for the Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis and was honored to be part of an exhibition that offered fresh scholarly reconsideration of Blume and celebrated his artistic legacy.
July 16 | Gallery Talk with curator Erin Monroe
July 16 | Film: Without Gorky
July 18 | Film: Without Gorky
August 6 | Gallery Talk with Curator Robin Jaffee Frank
September 10 | Gallery talk with curators Erin Monroe and Oliver Tostmann
September 12 | Second Saturdays for Families: Fractured Landscapes
Hartford Courant, July 16, Vibrant Paintings of Modernist Peter Blume at Wadsworth by Susan Dunne
A 352-page, fully illustrated exhibition catalogue draws on a selection of previously unpublished interviews with Blume and selected examples of the artist’s writings, and reflects previously unknown aspects of Blume’s work, including a poster design made during World War II, a major painting not seen in public since 1961, and extensive photographs and drawings from his archives. Essays by scholars Samantha Baskind, Sergio Cortesini, Cozzolino, Robert Cowley, David McCarthy and Sarah Vure bring the artist’s significance within the history of American art into sharp focus, providing unprecedented insight into the artist’s process and the origins of his profound visions of twentieth-century social and spiritual upheaval.
Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis was organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, with support from presenting foundation sponsor the Henry Luce Foundation. Major support provided by the Boris Lurie Art Foundation. Additional funding provided by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, the Armand G. Erpf Fund and the Terra Foundation for American Art. The exhibition appeared in its entirety at PAFA from November 14, 2014 to April 5, 2015. Funding for the exhibition’s presentation at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is provided by The Morris Joseloff Exhibition Fund, The William O. and Carole P. Bailey Exhibition Fund, The Howard Fromson Exhibition Fund, a gift of the Jean and Julien Levy Foundation for the Arts, Inc. and Lawrence Benenson.
Image: Peter Blume, The Italian Straw Hat (detail), 1952, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 1955.32, Art © The Educational Alliance, Inc./Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York