Cattle Loading

Cattle Loading, oil on board, 4' x 12', 1988

A native of Iowa and resident of Davenport, John Vincent Bloom (1906-2002) drew inspiration from his immediate surroundings and personal experiences. Bloom's singular interest in depicting local, American subject matter reflects his life-long commitment to Regionalism. Popular during the years of the Great Depression, Regionalism eschewed the abstraction introduced by the Parisian school of art in favor of a more naturalistic and easily recognizable style and subject matter. Lead by Thomas Hart Benton (1889 - 1975) of Missouri, Grant Wood (1891 - 1942) of Iowa, and John Stuart Curry (1892 - 1942), of Kansas, Regionalist artists strove to create art that was uniquely American. They shunned the frenetic lifestyle of the metropolis, focusing on the American heartland and validating the worth and power of a nation struggling with economic hardship and political instability.

Bloom was introduced to Regionalism in 1932 when he participated in Grant Wood's Stone City Art Colony and School, an institution aimed to further Regionalist philosophy. His work with Grant Wood continued when the latter spearheaded the Public Works of Art Project (P.W.A.P) for the state of Iowa. Funded by the federal government to help alleviate the economic crisis, the P.W.A.P. created jobs for unemployed artists by commissioning large-scale murals and other decorations for public buildings. . His working relationship with Wood continued when in 1934 Wood invited him, along with other members of Stone City, to help paint the Iowa State University and the Des Moines public library murals. Blooms's sketchbook containing his many studies and sketches for the murals are included in this exhibition. In 1937 a federal art program commissioned Bloom to paint the mural Shucking Corn (completed in 1939) in the new post office of DeWitt. A year later, Bloom was awarded with another commission to paint a mural, this one in Tipton, Iowa. Named Cattle, it was installed in 1940.

The John Bloom: Visions of Iowa exhibition at the Figge Museum in Davenport, Iowa highlights a sixty year career of a native son and Regionalist master who was able to capture the spirit and fortitude of the hardworking inhabitants of rural, small-town America and offer a fleeting glimpse into the past.  The exhibition runs until September 27th.

Figge Art Museum

This page was first displayed
on August 18, 2009

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