Matters of Life and Death
Hyman Bloom (1913–2009) was a contemporary of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Arshile Gorky. This new study focuses on Bloom’s paintings and drawings of autopsies, 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 colors as he aspired to present both the physical and the spiritual on canvas.
Insightful curatorial essays accompanied by beautiful full-color 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.”