Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blume's The Rock At The Chicago Art Institute

Last Monday, while walking around Chicago's Art Institute with my buddy Joe W (who happens to be a member of the Art Institute), I ran right into "The Rock" by Peter Blume. I'd first seen this work of art on a post card, on my buddy Todd's wall, almost 30 years ago. I'd forgotten that it was in the fantastic Chicago Art Institute, which I had not been to for almost 2 dozen years.

Blume's work has always fascinated me, with it's sharp contrasts and other-worldly images. Not having seen "The Rock" in so many years, in my mind I had multiplied the number of "worshipers" kneeling before it and had subconsciously altered the "craftsmen" to be quite macabre - forming a mental image of them sacrificing infants, and using bone tools to hew the stones in the foreground. Seeing this painting again after such a long period was both a THRILL and a Let Down. Thrilled to finally reconnect the memory's original seed, but slightly let down that it was not as dark and sinister as my mind had internally evolved it to me.

It's amusing to Google "The Rock" and "Peter Blume" and read all sorts of BS about how it "represents the Atomic Bombs dropped on Hiroshima & Nagasaki" (links here and here for example) - really? Commissioned in 1939, and finished in 1944... Blume must have been quite a prescient oracle to foresee that not one, but two atomic fissile weapons would be used against the Japanese (though the Coca-Cola sign in the painting is in obviously in English)!! A nice Time article here, from 1949 interviewing Blume himself, is a nice touch.

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