Norman Bluhm: Coney Island Beauty

Norman Bluhm, Coney Island Beauty, 1974, installed at 499 Park Avenue (courtesy
Norman Bluhm, Coney Island Beauty, 1974, installed at 499 Park Avenue (courtesy Loretta Howard Gallery)

Charlie Finch visits Norman Bluhm's monumental painting Coney Island Beauty, recently installed at 499 Park Ave, New York.

Although Finch finds that the painting owes an "overwhelming debt to Pablo Picasso," he writes that "a doubling in the subject at hand restored, for a moment, to me, what is right about the painting, why I wanted to love it. The 'beauty' depicted, you see, could be that chubby wastrel on the shore, but also the billboard of some Botero-sized babe adorning the games of chance, like SkeeBall, on the Coney Island boardwalk itself. In this way, Norman Bluhm sprinkles that rarest of painterly qualities, humor, into his sparkling rolls of color and Picassoid line structure."