Albert Bloch painting donated by KU alumni represents artist’s early work in Lawrence
LAWRENCE, KS, December 19, 2014 – It may be cold outside, but the Spencer Museum’s 20/21 Gallery has some added warmth with the newly acquired Albert Bloch painting Summer. The painting, donated this fall by KU alumni Dr. Eric and Michelle Voth, adds to the Spencer’s strong holdings by Bloch and represents a unique period in the artist’s work. The left half of the painting portrays a still-life of a vibrant yellow flower in a vase, while on the right half a woman and a clown share a quiet and somewhat mysterious interaction.
Eric Voth said his family felt the Spencer Museum was the right home for the painting because of their three generations of loyalty to the University. The gift is also to honor Voth’s father, Harold, who began collecting Bloch’s work more than 50 years ago.
“I thank the administration of the Spencer who have been absolutely pivotal in helping us place our gift where our hearts are,” Voth said.
Scott Heffley, President of the Albert Bloch Foundation and Senior Conservator of Paintings at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, said the painting demonstrates a transition from Bloch’s style while working in Germany to the style he developed after returning to America.
“The color harkens back to the German period where colors were really strong and pure and the two figures relate especially to works that came late in his American period,” Heffley said.
Bloch painted Summer in 1929, during an important period when he was establishing the Art Department at the University of Kansas. Heffley said the addition of Summer to the Spencer’s collection is significant both because a painting from this period is rare, and because it adds to the Museum’s representation of work created by Bloch while at KU. Spencer Curator of European & American Art Susan Earle said that the use of color and the luminous quality of the painting are particularly striking.
“The way the flower glows like a sun is like nothing else by Bloch that the Spencer owns,” Earle said.
This glowing, luminous quality is exemplary of Bloch’s experimentation with different glazes. “Particularly in the ‘20s he hit that formula of glazing to create images that glowed from their own light,” Heffley said.
Two other works by Bloch—Winter, created in 1918, and Frieze for a Music Room, 1915— are also on view in the 20/21 Gallery. These two paintings, which were created while Bloch was in Germany, provide a visual contrast to Summer, allowing viewers to experience a range of the artist’s work.
“It is a pleasure to be gifted this work because of the Voths’ association with the University and their connections to the artist,” Spencer Director Saralyn Reece Hardy said.
The Voths, whose family had a long-standing relationship with the Albert Bloch and his wife Anna, gave the Spencer another painting by Bloch in 2004.