Hyman Bloom, a twentieth-century painter occupies a pivotal position in the emergence of abstract expressionism in the United States. With his death in August 2009 [New York Times and Boston Globe obituaries], there has come increasing recognition that long after he was called “the greatest artist in America” and subsequently retreated to Nashua, NH, he has much to contribute to the contemporary art scene. His move from abstract expressionism to spiritual expressionism may transform the moniker which was hung on him by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning as “the first Abstract Expressionist artist in America” to become the first Mystical Expressionist in the beginning of the twenty-first century after a period of relative neglect. In 2002, the National Academy of Design Museum presented an exhibition of Bloom’s works entitled “Color and Ecstasy: The Art of Hyman,” the first of a series of exhibitions celebrating the artistic achievement of once renowned artists whose careers have fallen into relative obscurity. Holland Cotter’s favorable review in the New York Times was entitled “A Loner’s Adventures in Spirituality.” Now with Bloom’s death, his legacy may no longer be that of a loner, as there is increasing interest in discovering works, via a series of forthcoming exhibitions, never previously shown and inaccessible to the public.
Bloom was born into an orthodox Jewish family in the tiny Jewish village of Brunavišķi, in the Bauska District of the Zemgale region of southern Latvia, near the town of Bauska and about 45 miles south of Riga near the Lithuanian border. He emigrated to the United States with his family in 1920, at the age of seven. He lived for most of his life in Boston, Massachusetts and at a young age planned to become a rabbi, but his family could not find a suitable teacher.
Bloom was quickly identified at a young age as a talented artist by a grade school teacher. At the age of fifteen, Bloom and Jack Levine, another Jewish painter from Boston, received scholarships in the fine arts by the famous Harvard art professor Denman Ross (1853-1935) under whose influence he learned to paint with limited color palettes according to Ross’ theories on tone relations. They also both studied with Harold Zimmerman (1905-1941), a drawing teacher at the West End Settlement House who would encourage his students to dig deep into their creative imagination and draw from memory, before his untimely death. Bloom, along with Levine and Karl Zerbe eventually became associated with a style known as Boston Expressionism.
While Bloom found himself on his own at the age of twenty, his childhood mentors continued to influence his approach to composition and painting throughout his career. A self taught scholar of mysticism, existentialism, art, and eastern music who was keenly aware of the existential condition, Bloom spent hours in the Boston Public Library and reading from friends’ collections. He loved to watch experiments, spending hours in the lab of his doctor and long time friend Dr. A. Stone Freedberg. A man of unbridled intellectual curiosity, Bloom was often misrepresented as a recluse because he kept odd hours and didn’t socialize at art openings. While Bloom sometimes took decades working and reworking paintings, he was a prolific artist with dozens of works held in museums and private collections around the world.
Bloom was a close friend of the composer Alan Hovhaness and the Greek mystic painter Hermon di Giovanno. The three of them often met together to discuss various mystical subjects and to listen to Indian classical music. Bloom encouraged di Giovanno in his art, providing him with a set of pastels with which he executed his earliest paintings.
Like a composer who repeatedly approaches the symphony periodically throughout his life, Hyman Bloom continued to approach vital themes in a manner which both deepened and transformed his original inspirations.
Hyman Bloom is survived by his wife Stella Bloom. Please contact the estate of Hyman Bloom with requests for additional information on Hyman Bloom’s work and forthcoming exhibitions, access to archival material, to license artwork images or for inquires regarding remaining works in the Hyman Bloom estate.