Norman Bluhm (American, 1921–1999) was an action painter associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement, and best known for his large-scale gestural paintings. Born in Chicago, Bluhm studied architecture under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Armour Institute of Technology, before serving in the U.S. Army Corps as a B-26 pilot for three years—service which impacted his emphasis on speed and space in his paintings. Afterward, Bluhm studied at the Academia de Belle Art in Florence and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he lived from 1948 until 1956. After moving to New York, he was influenced by the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline. His art was also impacted by historical art, such as medieval tapestries, ecclesiastical stained glass, and Italian Renaissance altarpieces.

Bluhm became known for his aggressive slashes and drips of paint, evident in works such as Circus (1959) and Waterloo (1965), which show his adherence to the Abstract Expressionist style at a time when the Pop and Conceptual Art movements became dominant. In 1960, Bluhm collaborated with poet Frank O’Hara to produce a series of 26 Poem-Paintings—works on paper that combined phrases from O’Hara’s poetry with Bluhm’s dripping, expressive brushstrokes. Bluhm’s later work, such as Oriental Madonna (1986), focused on forms suggesting female nudes, painted in pink, yellow, and lavender, and indicates Bluhm’s interest in religious art of the East and West.

His work has been exhibited at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Circulo do Bellas Artes in Madrid, among other institutions. His work is currently held in public collections such as the Smithsonian American Museum in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York.


Born in Chicago, IL
Studied architecture with Mies van der Rohe at Armour Institute of Technology (later Illiniois Institute of Technology), Chicago, IL
United States Army Air Force
Returned to architecture studies at Armour Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL
Studied at Accademia de Belle Arte, Florence, Italy
Studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, France
Acted in Jean Cocteau’s film Orphée
Died in East Wallingford, VT


The Late Paintings of Norman Bluhm, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, TX (solo)
James Graham & Sons Gallery Booth, Art Chicago, Chicago, IL (solo)
Norman Bluhm: Selected Works from 1976 to 1989, Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (group)
New York School, Another View, Opalka Gallery, The Sages Colleges, Albany, NY (group)
Norman Bluhm, Works on Paper from the 70s, 80s and 90s, James Graham and Sons, New York, NY (solo)
Norman Bluhm, Three Paintings, JG Contemporary, New York, NY (solo)
An American Odyssey: 1945 19080, Circulo do Bellas Artes, Madrid, Spain (group)
Recent Acquisitions: Framing the Collection Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY (group)
Modern American Painting, from the NYU Art Collection, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland (group)
Abstract per se, Red Dot, New York, NY (group)
Norman Bluhm Drawings, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA (solo)
Ideal Abstraction, 1955 - 1965, Karl Benjamin and Norman Bluhm, Gary Snyder Fine Art, New York, NY (solo)
1950–1965, Abstraction on Paper, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY (group)
Rudy Burckhardt and Friends: New York Artists of the 1950s and 60s, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY (group)
Group Exhibition, Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (group)
In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; traveled to Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH and The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY (group)
O’Hara, Bluhm & Goldberg, Un poeta e due pittori a New York negli anni ‘50, Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea di Palazzo Rocca, Chiavari, Genova (group)
Dreams for the Next Century, The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY (group)
Bluhm, Burton, and Frank, Kunstruimte Wagemans, Beetsterzwaag, The Netherlands (group)
Colorflex, Apex Art C.P. New York, NY (group)
Torino Parigi New York Osaka. Tapié. Un Art Autre, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino (group)
Pintura Estadounidense, Expressionismo Abstracto, Centro Cultural (group)
After Goya, a Subjective Look, Saragossa, Spain (group)
Ace Contemporary Gallery, New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1ère Triennale des Amériques, Maubeuge, France (group)
Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY (solo)
Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Inaugural Exhibition, Parts I and II, Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY (group)
Group Show, Galerie Stadler, Paris, France (group)
Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
A Salute to the Signa Gallery, Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY (group)
Group Show, Galerie Stadler, Paris, France (group)
Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Inaugural Exhibition of Twentieth Century Art, James A. Michener Center, Bucks County, PA(group)
Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ (solo)
American Abstract Drawings, The Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR (group)
Inner Worlds - Fantastic Landscapes of the 1950’s, Sarah Lawrence College Art Gallery, Bronxville, NY (group)
Leo Castelli, Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico (group)
Michael Goldberg/Norman Bluhm: Painterly Direction: Spontaneity/Restraint -Work of the fifties and sixties, Vanderwoude Tananbaum Gallery, New York, NY (group)
Post Abstract Expressionism, Vanderwoude Tananbaum Gallery, New York, NY (group)
In Scale and Time, Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (group)
Prints from the Workshop of Cone Editions, Gallery North, Setauket, NY (group)
Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Zolla-Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL (solo)
Herbert Palmer Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport, CA (group)
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA (group)
Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH (group)
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (group)
National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC (group)
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC (solo)
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (solo)
Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY (solo)
Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY (solo)
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC(solo)
Large Scale American Painting, Jewish Museum, New York, NY (group)
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (group)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (group)
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Carnegie Institution, Washington, DC (group)
Paul Kantor Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, NY (solo)

Public Collections

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Nelson-Atkins Gallery of Art, Kansas City, MO
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Wales
Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA