Hyman Bloom: Matters of Life and Death
Erica E. Hirshler
Accompanies the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, on this key member of the Boston Expressionist school
Hyman Bloom (1913–2009) was a key member of the Boston Expressionist school and a contemporary of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Arshile Gorky. This new study focuses on Bloom’s paintings and drawings of human corpses, anatomical studies and archaeological excavations from the 1940s and 1950s. He often returned to these subjects throughout his career, using thickly applied paint in rich colours as he aspired to present both the physical and the spiritual on canvas.
Insightful curatorial essays accompanied by beautiful full-colour reproductions explore this difficult but compelling work, considering themes such as the life, death and rebirth of Bloom’s artistic reputation; the growing divide between figuration and abstraction at this defining moment of American art; earlier artistic traditions of representing mortality; the relationship between these works and Bloom’s Judaism, interest in eastern religions, and belief in reincarnation; and the artist’s desire to find beauty and meaning within death and decay. In these drawings and paintings, as Bloom himself asserted, ‘the paradox of the harrowing and the beautiful [can] be brought into unity.’
Erica E. Hirshler is the Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Naomi Slipp is Assistant Professor of Art History, Fine Art Department, Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama.