Norman Bluhm: Reconciling Painting

Norman Bluhm, Byzantine Angel, 1989, oil on canvas, 72 by 84 inches (courtesy No
Norman Bluhm, Byzantine Angel, 1989, oil on canvas, 72 by 84 inches (courtesy Norman Bluhm Estate)

Raphael Rubinstein blogs about the need for a reappraisal of Norman Bluhm's work and his impact on painting in the 20th century.

Rubinstein writes that Bluhm "knew that he would finally arrive at an approach that combined his early architectural training, his debt to Abstract Expressionism, and his passion for old masters. But if he knew where he was going, he also knew that there were no shortcuts, at least not for someone who respected the integrity and craft of painting, who never wanted to reject his own past, whose work was always about reconciliation, even when the only thing he was reconciling was the painting he was working on and the painting he’d just completed.... In the 1990s, Bluhm’s multi-panel, mural-scale paintings offered a compelling summation of his own career (he never turned away from gestural painting, but daringly assimilated it into geometric structures) and, even more importantly, an audacious project to reconcile some five centuries of painting history, stretching from the Lorenzetti brothers in 14th-century Siena and passing through Botticelli, Rubens, Tiepolo, Cézanne, Matisse and de Kooning."

The Silo