With subtitle: “Nature and Metamorphosis” showing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts now thru April 5, 2015.
This is a large show displaying about 160 drawings and paintings, a retrospective of the American modernist, Peter Blume, 1906-1992. In his earlier art, there is a touch of surrealism and a sense of folk art. I sensed it the moment I walked into the gallery. I like the mood projected in his early works. Precision rendering is remarkably consistent in all of his art. Throughout the exhibition I find myself drawn to his drawings much more than his paintings. His paintings usually demonstrate superior techniques. Good contrasts. Unfailing details. 3D illusion. Very vivid. But his painting can easily be viewed as a narrative statement, almost like illustration. His color is quite brilliant, but to my eye it is so close to jarring that I have to shift my eye, away from it. His painting is not like the one you want to stare at for a long time yet you don’t get enough of it. But his drawings are so different that you almost think those drawings are done by a different artist. To me his drawing has a humane quality. Powerful, interesting, and emotionally available. With black and white, or monochrome drawing the viewer can exercise his/her imagination to attain various levels of interpretation. The process is rewarding. However, his painting is loaded with precise form and specific color, the viewer has to take it as is. It is not so emotionally and aesthetically inviting. However, technically speaking, Blume is outstanding artist with a unique style. His kind of art does make a mark in history and is more suitable for museum display than a private home setting. No wonder that MOMA owns “The Eternal City”, and the Art Institute of Chicago, “The Rock”.