Jan. 24, 1997

KU is one of few sites selected for Albert Bloch exhibit


The only American member of "Der Blaue Reiter," (The Blue Rider), Germany's most important group of artists in the 20th century, will be featured in an exhibit at KU.

The exhibit, "Albert Bloch: St. Louis - Munich - Lawrence," will be on display Jan. 26 to March 16 at KU's Watson Library.

The Watson display will run concurrently with a major retrospective exhibit, "Albert Bloch: The American Blue Rider," at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. The Nelson-Atkins show will feature more than 80 of the artist's paintings.

The Kansas City exhibit includes Bloch's 1918 painting Winter, from the collection of KU's Spencer Museum of Art. Winter is reproduced on the cover of the January-February 1997 issue of American Art Review, which features an article on Bloch, "Albert Bloch: The American Blue Rider," by David C. Cateforis, KU assistant professor of art history. Cateforis also has contributed an essay to the Nelson-Atkins exhibition catalogue.

"The exhibit at KU will emphasize Bloch's work as a poet, translator and caricaturist, as well as an artist," Cateforis said. "It will complement the retrospective in Kansas City and help make clear the scope and variety of Bloch's achievements."

The KU exhibit was organized by Frank Baron, KU professor of Germanic languages and literatures, and designed by L.E. James Helyar, curator in graphics at KU's Spencer Research Library. It is sponsored by the Max Kade Center for German-American Studies at KU and the KU libraries.

Born in St. Louis in 1882, Bloch began his career as a newspaper illustrator. He drew cartoons, caricatures and cover illustrations for the literary weekly The Mirror from 1905 to 1908.

In 1908 Bloch went to Munich to study art. While in Germany, Bloch met Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, founders of the Blue Rider, who invited him to participate in the group's first exhibition in 1911.

Bloch later became head of the department of drawing and painting at KU, where he taught from 1923 to 1947. He continued to work in Lawrence until his death in 1961.

"Albert Bloch: St. Louis - Munich - Lawrence" features photographs, documents, books and reproductions of Bloch's paintings and drawings. Many of these materials have been borrowed from the collection of Bloch's widow, Anna Francis Bloch. The exhibit presents Bloch's early work as an illustrator and caricaturist, his Blue Rider years in Munich, and his later work as a poet and translator of German poetry.

"Bloch participated in major exhibitions in Europe as a young man, exhibiting beside artists such as Picasso and Klee," Baron said. "After his return to the United States, he refused to exhibit in commercial galleries, so he has often been overlooked by critics and art historians. However, Bloch is well known by literary scholars for his translations of the German poetry of Karl Kraus."

Baron and Cateforis are the editors of a new, illustrated book, Albert Bloch: Artistic and Literary Perspectives, which includes essays on Bloch by 13 scholars. The book is published by the Max Kade Center and Prestel-Verlag, a German publishing house.

Baron is also editor of Albert Bloch: German Poetry in War and Peace, A Dual Language Anthology, published in 1995.

The KU and Kansas City exhibits will be shown concurrently in Munich, Germany, April 16 to June 29. The KU exhibit will be on view at the Amerika Haus, while the Kansas City exhibit will be displayed at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus.

The Kansas City retrospective also will be shown Oct. 3 to Dec. 7 at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington.

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