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Peter Blume (27 October 1906 - 30 November 1992) was an American painter and sculptor. His work contained elements of folk art, precisionism, Parisian Purism, Cubism, and Surrealism.[1]

Peter Blume
Peter Blume Therock.jpeg
The Rock, 1944-1948
Born(1906-10-27)October 27, 1906
DiedNovember 30, 1992(1992-11-30) (aged 86)
Known forPainting
MovementFolk art, Precisionism, Parisian Purism, Cubism, Surrealism



Blume, born in Smarhon, Russia (present-day Belarus) to a Jewish family,[2][failed verification] emigrated with his family to New York City in 1912; the family settled in Brooklyn.[1] He studied art at the Educational Alliance, the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, and the Art Students League of New York, establishing his own studio by 1926.[3] He trained with Raphael Soyer and Isaac Soyer, exhibited with Charles Daniel, and was patronized by the Rockefeller family.[4] Blume married Grace Douglas in 1931; they had no surviving children.[1] In 1948, Blume was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full member in 1956.


An admirer of Renaissance technique, Blume worked by drawing and making cartoons before putting his work on canvas. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1932 and spent a year in Italy. His first major recognition came in 1934 with a first prize for South of Scranton at a Carnegie Institute International Exhibition. The painting was inspired by a trip across Pennsylvania in an old car that required frequent repair.[1] Eternal City (1934–1937) was politically charged, portraying Benito Mussolini as a jack-in-the-box emerging from the Colosseum; as a one-man, one-painting exhibition, it excited considerable attention from critics and audiences.[1][5]

Blume worked for the Section of Painting and Sculpture of the U.S. Treasury Department, painting at least two post office murals, in Geneva, New York, and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.[6]

Blume's works often portrayed destruction and restoration simultaneously.[1] Stones and girders made frequent appearances; The Rock (1944–1948) was interpreted by its viewers as symbolizing renewal in the wake of World War II. Recollection of the Flood (1969) depicted the victims of the 1966 Flood of the River Arno in Florence along with restorers at work. The Metamorphoses (1979) invoked the Greek legend of Deucalion and Pyrrha, who repopulated the earth after a deluge.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Smith, Roberta (1992-12-01). "Peter Blume, 86, Painter of Dreamlike Narratives". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  2. ^ Jewish Art in America. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Peter Blume. (American, 1906-1992)". MOMA. 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  4. ^ "Oral history interview with Peter Blume, 1983 August 16-1984 May 23". Smithsonian Museum. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  5. ^ "Image of Italy". Time. 1937-12-06. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  6. ^ Park, Marlene and Gerald E. Markowitz, Democratic Vistas: Post Offices and Public Art in the New Deal, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1984 p. 84

Further readingEdit

  • Cozzolino, R. (2015). Peter Blume: nature and metamorphosis. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-943836-42-3
  • Harnsberger, R.S. (1992). Ten precisionist artists : annotated bibliographies [Art Reference Collection no. 14]. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-27664-1
  • Trapp, F. (1987). Peter Blume. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 0-8478-0854-8

External linksEdit