BLUME, PETER (1906–1992), U.S. painter and sculptor. The Russian-born Blume immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, in 1911 with his family. He studied art in several institutions, most notably beginning his art training at the age of 13 at the Educational Alliance. There his classmates included moses soyer and chaim gross . Blume's early work was shown at the Daniel Gallery, one of the most progressive venues in New York. The imagery from this period, mostly landscapes and still lifes, was influenced by Precisionism, an American art movement defined by a sharply delineated technique. His highly stylized work combined fantasy elements with depictions of modern life. In South of Scranton (1931), precise, miniature, 15th-century technique was employed to create a 20th-century image of German soldiers exercising on the deck of a ship at the quaint town of Charleston, South Carolina. His largest picture to date, the painting won first prize at the 1934 Carnegie International Exhibition, making Blume the youngest painter to have earned that distinction. After spending 1932 in Italy on a Guggenheim grant, he worked for three years on The Eternal City (1934–37), now owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Amid the ruins of Rome, Blume portrays Mussolini as an enormous green jack-in-the-box in the Roman Forum. This large, crisply rendered canvas garnered mixed reviews because of its controversial, propagandistic subject. During the late 1930s he produced three murals of the American scene under the auspices of the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. Barns (1937), Vineyard (1942), and Two Rivers (1942) were painted for post offices in Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania, Geneva, New York, and Rome, Georgia, respectively. His work showed widely during the Great Depression, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at an exhibition sponsored by the World Alliance or Yiddish Culture (YKUF). While uninterested in subjects of a religious Jewish nature, Blume did paint Christian imagery. After a 1949 trip to Mexico, Blume painted The Shrine (1950), Crucifixion (1951), and Man of Sorrows (1951), the latter of which is in the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1972, Blume briefly changed mediums and produced a sculpture series, Bronzes About Venus. Comprised of 17 sculptures on the theme of the goddess of beauty and pleasure, 10 large and 17 smaller pieces were initially modeled in wax and then cast in bronze. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: P. Blume, Peter Blume in Retrospect (1964); F. Trapp, Peter Blume (1987). (Samantha Baskind (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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