Mystical, Squishy, Distinctly Unsettling



A list of words that could describe Hyman Bloom’s work: loud, abstract, mystical, colorful, squishy, fleshy, grotesque, distinctly unsettling. But Bloom aimed to communicate beyond language. When thirteen of his paintings appeared in a group show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1942, he refused to provide a statement for the exhibition catalogue. Doing so would have stood in direct opposition to the nonverbal, Blakean transcendence for which he aimed. Bloom’s paintings often represent moments when, in his own words, “the mood is as intense as it can be made,” which ends up looking like some meeting of the corporeal and the cosmic. What are we looking at here? What is earthly, and what is ethereal? Bodies swim into blurs. Horizons melt like heated plastic. Blobs bristle with tooth and bone. Modern Mystic: The Art of Hyman Bloom presents the artist’s work in all its soupy, horrifying glory; see a selection of images from the book below.

Hyman Bloom, Seascape I (First Series), 1974, oil on canvas, 53″ x 62″. Private collection.


Hyman Bloom, Christmas Tree, 1939, oil on canvas, 54″ x 35″. Collection of Cathy Bloom. Photo: Jeffrey Nintzel.


Hyman Bloom, The Stone, 1947, oil on canvas, 43″ x 28″. Private collection.


Hyman Bloom, Sunset in Lubec, 1980, oil on canvas, 25″ x 48″. Collection of Herbert P. and Marylou Gray.


Hyman Bloom, Rocks and Autumn Leaves, 1949, oil on canvas, 35″ x 54″. Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Gift of Professor and Mrs. John McAndrew.


Hyman Bloom, Self-Portrait, 1948, oil on canvas, 72″ x 36″. Collection of Deborah and Ed Shein. Photo: Jeffrey Nintzel.


Hyman Bloom, Woods in Lubec, 1986, oil on canvas, 30″ x 25″. Collection of Merloyd Ludington.


Hyman Bloom, Christmas Tree, 1944, oil on canvas, 50 1/4″ x 30 1/2″. Collection of Laurence Knowlton.


All images from Modern Mystic: The Art of Hyman Bloom, published by D.A.P.