Hyman Bloom (b. Brunavišķi, now part of Latvia, then part of Russian empire, March 29, 1913; d. Nashua, New Hampshire, United States, August 26, 2009) was a painter. His work is influenced by his Jewish heritage, Eastern religions as well as artists including Altdorfer, Grunewald, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, William Blake, Rudolph Bresdin, J.M.W. Turner, John Martin, Chaim Soutine and Denman Ross among many others that he uses to explore themes of the harrowing and the beautiful and glimpses of the supernatural. Many of his works feature macabre subjects such as skeletons or corpses based upon his experience in a morgue and influences including Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp 1632, Chaim Soutine's Carcass of Beef, 1925, and have modern-day comparisons to Damien Hirst's experiences in a morgue and dissected animal sculptures. Bloom's still life paintings continue to explore the theme of the harrowing and the beautiful creating modern-day vanitas paintings featuring Amphora Pottery that was influenced by the Aesthetic Movement and Symbolists. His drawings and paintings of Lubec, Maine woods continue to explore the relationship between the natural and spiritual realms.
Bloom was born into an orthodox Jewish family in the tiny Jewish village of Brunavišķi, in the Bauska District of the Zemgale region of southern Latvia, near the town of Bauska and about 45 miles south of Riga near the Lithuanian border. He emigrated to the United States with his family in 1920, at the age of seven. He lived for most of his life in Boston, Massachusetts and at a young age planned to become a rabbi, but his family could not find a suitable teacher.
At the age of fifteen, Bloom and Jack Levine, another Jewish painter from Boston, received scholarships in the fine arts by the famous Harvard art professor Denman Ross (1853–1935). They also studied with Harold Zimmerman, who died in 1941 while still in his thirties. Bloom, along with Levine and another painter, Karl Zerbe, eventually became associated with a style named Boston Expressionism.
In 1940, after viewing Bloom's abstracted paintings of archeological sites, Clement Greenberg, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning dubbed Bloom "the greatest artist in America." In 1949, Bloom received a Guggenheim fellowship, and in 1950 he was one of only seven artists (including Arshile Gorky, John Marin, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning) to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. In a 1954 conversation with Bernard Chaet, Pollock and de Kooning called Bloom "the first Abstract Expressionist artist in America." The same year, Bloom had a major retrospective of his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
He was a close friend of the composer Alan Hovhaness and the Greek mystic painter Hermon di Giovanno. The three of them often met together to discuss various mystical subjects and to listen to Indian classical music. Bloom encouraged di Giovanno in his art, providing him with a set of pastels with which he executed his earliest paintings. In 1984, Bloom was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full member in 1994.
Hyman Bloom: A Spiritual Embrace, a traveling exhibit of his work, will debut in September 2009 at the Yeshiva University Museum. Hyman Bloom: The Beauty of All Things, a film about the artist's life and work, will be released in October 2009. A book and exhibition Hyman Bloom's Still Life Paintings:Amphora Pottery in the Eye of a Modern Master is currently being prepared for 2010 by Paul Royka.
- Chaet, Bernard (1980). "The Boston Expressionist School: A Painter's Recollections of the Forties". Archives of American Art Journal 20 (1): 25–30.
- Cotter, Holland. "Hyman Bloom, a Painter of the Mystical, Is Dead at 96", The New York Times, August 31, 2009. Accessed August 31, 2009.