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 (German, 1886–1969) at the Armour Institute of Technology, before serving in the United States Army Corps as a B-26 pilot for three years—service which impacted his emphasis on speed and space in his paintings. Afterwards, 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 (American, 1912–1956), Willem de Kooning (American/Dutch, 1904–1997), and Franz Kline (American, 1910–1962). 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), focuses 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.

Timeline

1921
Born in Chicago, IL
1936–1941
Studied architecture with Mies van der Rohe at Armour Institute of Technology (later Illiniois Institute of Technology), Chicago, IL
1941–1945
United States Army Air Force
1945
Returned to architecture studies at Armour Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL
1946
Studied at Accademia de Belle Arte, Florence, Italy
1947
Studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, France
1949
Acted in Jean Cocteau’s film Orphée
1999
Died in East Wallingford, VT

Exhibitions

2007
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)
2005
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)
2004
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)
2003
Abstract per se, Red Dot, New York, NY (group)
2002
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)
2001
1950–1965, Abstraction on Paper, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY (group)
2000
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)
1999
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)
1998
Dreams for the Next Century, The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY (group)
1997
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)
1996
Pintura Estadounidense, Expressionismo Abstracto, Centro Cultural (group)
After Goya, a Subjective Look, Saragossa, Spain (group)
1994
Ace Contemporary Gallery, New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1993
1ère Triennale des Amériques, Maubeuge, France (group)
1992
Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY (solo)
1991
Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Inaugural Exhibition, Parts I and II, Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY (group)
Group Show, Galerie Stadler, Paris, France (group)
1990
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)
1989
Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Inaugural Exhibition of Twentieth Century Art, James A. Michener Center, Bucks County, PA(group)
1988
Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ (solo)
American Abstract Drawings, The Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR (group)
1987
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)
1986
Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Zolla-Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL (solo)
1985
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)
1977
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC (solo)
1976
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (solo)
1970–1974
Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY (solo)
1973
Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY (solo)
1969
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC(solo)
1967
Large Scale American Painting, Jewish Museum, New York, NY (group)
1966
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (group)
1961
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (group)
1960
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1958
Carnegie Institution, Washington, DC (group)
Paul Kantor Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1957
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