The Expressive Voice: Selections from the Permanent Collection

Hyman Bloom, Fishes

Hyman Bloom, Seascape II, 1974, oil/canvas
55 x 72 inches,
Collection, Danforth Museum of Art,
gift of Dr. Ephraim and Mrs. Dagmar Friedman.

November 20, 2011 - February 26, 2012

Opening Reception Saturday, November 19, 6pm - 8pm

Gallery Talks
Sunday, November 20, Dorothy Lamb Crawford, Expressionism in 20th Century Music, 3pm
Wednesday, November 30, Katherine French, Hyman Bloom: Law of the Fishes, 12:30pm
Wednesday, January 18, Jessica Roscio: Women, Identity, and Expressionism in Photography, 12:30pm

Film Screening
Sunday, February 12, Hyman Bloom: The Beauty of All Things, 4pm. Introduction with filmmaker, Angélica Brisk (view trailer)

About the Exhibit

The Danforth Museum of Art has become recognized for its commitment to Boston Expressionism, a school that embraced a distinctive blend of visionary painting, dark humor, religious mysticism, and social commentary. Historical roots of this movement can be traced
to European Symbolism and German Expressionism, but artists living and working in the Boston area from the 1930’s through the 1950’s, were particularly inspired by Chaim Soutine and Max Beckman. Many studied under the direction of Karl Zerbe at the Museum School. Because most painted realistically at a time when abstraction was the trend, these painterly expressionists have long
existed outside the mainstream of contemporary art. Yet these artists explored human emotion and spirituality with color and imagination, pushing paint across the surface of the canvas in a way that influenced Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and were important to the development of Abstract Expressionism – and significant to the history of twentieth century American art.

Hyman Bloom and Jack Levine were in the first generation of the group that came to be known as Boston Expressionists. Having grown up in the Jewish immigrant communities of Boston, both artists drew on their Eastern European heritage. Levine’s work tended toward the political, Bloom’s towards an exploration of the spiritual. Working from memory rather than directly from nature, both depicted scenes inspired by the Hebrew Talmud, classical music, or the human condition.

A  second generation of Boston Expressionist artists included David Aronson, Jason Berger, Francesco Carbone, Esther Geller,
Kahlil Gibran, Arthur Polonsky, Henry Schwartz, Barbara Swan, Lois Tarlow, Stephen Trefonides and numerous others. Most studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts under the direction of Karl Zerbe, and remained committed to representational figuration at a time when the contemporary art world embraced abstraction, pop and minimalism. Photographer Jules Aarons documented the West End neighborhood where Hyman Bloom grew up and, like his contemporary Morton Bartlett, was interested in the emotional narrative of everyday life observed on the streets of Boston during the mid-twentieth century.

A  third generation of Boston Expressionists were active in the 1970’s and 80’s, and continue working today. These include such diverse artists as Aaron Fink, Gerry Bergstein, Sidney Hurwitz, Jon Imber, Michael Mazur, Katherine Porter, Jane Smaldone and many others
who have employed expressive, sometimes visionary approaches. Considered together, all allow viewers to trace the presence of an “expressive voice” in contemporary art. While all are unique, their work continues a tradition of painterly expressionism, expanding our
consideration of painting in a digital age.

Artists Included in The Expressive Voice

Artists included in The Expressive Voice represent only a small number of those engaged with Expressionism during the last half of the twentieth century. We regret the omission of many, and hope to address this as part of the Danforth Museum of Art as we continue our
ongoing exploration of “the expressive voice.”

Jules Aarons
Elizabeth Awalk
David Aronson
Morton Bartlett
Jason Berger
Gerry Bergstein
Hyman Bloom
Nina Bohlen
John Brook
Judith Brassard Brown
Paul Caponigro
Francesco Carbone
Bernard Chaet
Marie Cosindas
Nicolas Dean
Hermon Di Giovanno
Alfred Duca
Lyonel Feininger
Robert Ferrandini
Aaron Fink
Karl Fortess
Esther Geller
William Georgenes
Kahlil Gibran
Nathan Goldstein
Judy Haberl
Erich Heckel
Sidney Hurwitz
Jon Imber
Reed Kay
Jack Kramer
Oscar Kokoschka
Lawrence Kupferman
Jack Levine
Michael Mazur
Catherine McCarthy
Sam Messer
Conger Metcalf
Iso Papo
Marianna Pineda
Arthur Polonsky
Katherine Porter
David Prifti
David Ratner
Michael Russo
Jo Sandman
Howard Schafer
Henry Schwartz
Mitchell Siporin
Jane Smaldone
Pat Steir
Barbara Swan
Lois Tarlow
Stephen Trefonides
Selina Trieff
Harold Tovish
Nan Tull
John Walker
John Wilson
Maxine Yalovitz-Blankenship
Melvin Joel Zabarsky
Karl Zerbe

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