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Norman Bluhm

American, 1921-1999


Norman Bluhm

Helen, 1973

Oil on canvas
24 x 36 1/4 in
61 x 92 cm


Norman Bluhm was born in Chicago in 1921. 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. Afterward, Bluhm studied at the Academia de Belle Art in Florence and the École des BeauxArts in Paris, where he lived from 1948 until 1956. Bluhm befriended fellow American expatriates, notably Sam Francis and Joan Mitchell. He also studied with Alberto Giacometti, Jean Cocteau, and Antonin Artaud. In 1956, Bluhm returned to the United States where he became an integral figure of the New York School, and a fixture at the Club and the Cedar Tavern. After moving to New York, he was influenced by the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline. 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. His work is currently held in public collections such as the Metropolitan, Whitney, Smithsonian, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and MoMA.