Martin Bloch

The Mississippi at Minneapolis


Not on display

Martin Bloch 1883–1954
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 711 × 921 mm
frame: 917 × 1118 × 100 mm
Purchased 1954

Display caption

In 1948 Bloch visited America, where he found in the western and southern states a light and a climate similar to the Mediterranean. For a brief period he taught at the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis. The high-keyed colour in this work, in particular the juxtaposition of blue and orange, reflects Bloch's aim to use colour to represent the light and space of nature. In 'Thoughts on Art Education' Bloch wrote, 'The optical colours observed in nature [the pupil] has to translate into the language of pigments. The beginner must recognise the importance of that beauty which is the outcome of understanding and loving the artist's craft'.

Gallery label, October 1995

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Catalogue entry

Inscr. ‘Bloch’ b.l. and ‘Missippi [sic] at Minneapolis 48’ on back of canvas.
Canvas, 28×36 1/4 (71×92).
Purchased from the artist's widow (Cleve Fund) 1954.
Coll: Purchased by Cyril Frankel from the artist 1954, but surrendered for purchase by the Tate Gallery.
Exh: Festival of Jewish Arts, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, February 1951 (14), as ‘Mississippi and Minneapolis’; Anglo-Jewish Exhibition, 1851–1951, Ben Uri Art Gallery, July–August 1951 (11); Martin Bloch, Antonio Frasconi and Jack Taylor, Western Art Circuit, Canada, 1952–3 (14).

When at Minneapolis in 1948 (teaching at the Walker Art Center) Bloch was particularly impressed by the river as the one outstanding feature of a rather dull town. He would often stand at one of the bridges for as long as an hour, making quick pen-and-ink studies and storing up mental images of the river's colours and changing forms. He began work on the under-painting of the final canvas in September 1948, but the picture was not finished until 1950, most of the actual painting being done in London. (Information from the artist's widow in conversation, 26 October 1954.)

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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