June Blum

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June Blum
June Druiett

(1929-12-10)10 December 1929
Died14 June 2017(2017-06-14) (aged 87)
Spouse(s)Maurice C. Blum

June Druiett Blum (Maspeth, Queens, New York, 10 December 1929—14 June 2017, Palm Beach, Florida)[1] was a multimedia American artist who produced paintings, sculptures, prints, light shows, happenings, jewelry, art books, pottery, conceptual documentations, and drawings.[2] She was also a feminist curator and activist who worked to advance the women's movement and increase visibility for women artists.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

June Blum, née Druiett, was born in Maspeth, Queens, New York,[2] where she was raised mostly by her mother, Elsie Sally Druiett (1897–1983),[2] because her father, Henry Charles Druiett (1899–1941), died at the age of 41.[2] In 1958, she married Maurice C. Blum (1913–1985), a businessman, poet, and avid photographer who documented the women’s art movement.[2] A collection of his poems, Love in Bloom: Poetry and Photography, was published posthumously in 1988.[4]

Blum studied at Brooklyn College, Pratt Graphic Art Center, Art Students League of New York, Craft Students League, and The New School for Social Research.[3] At the Brooklyn Museum Art School, she studied with Reuben Tam, Tom Doyle, and Reuben Kadish, among others. Her first solo exhibition was at the Hicks Street Gallery, Brooklyn, in 1965.[2]


Curatorial work and political activism[edit]

As curator of the Contemporary Art Program (1971–75) at the Suffolk Museum (now the Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages), Blum conceived Unmanly Art (1972), the first in-house museum-curated exhibition of works by women artists.[3] Blum also coordinated Works on Paper/Women Artists (1975) at the Brooklyn Museum, another show that supported the work of women.[5] The exhibition, however, "was outflanked by a major exhibit" called Of Men Only: A Review of Men's and Boys' Fashions, 1750–1975.[6] During Works on Paper/Women Artists, Blum served as the moderator for "Curators, Critics & the Economics of the Woman Artist," a panel that included Judith Van Baron, Patricia Mainardi, and Janet Schneider.[7] Also in 1975, she formed an organization called Women Artists Living in Brooklyn and served as a juror for Washington to Washington, an exhibition held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.[3] Blum participated in the first formal panel on "Gender and Art" to be held in Seattle, which coincided with her solo exhibition in 1977 at NN Gallery.[8] On the panel, she stated her belief that "there is gender in art, that female consciousness exists and should be encouraged," which contrasted with the idea that art is gender-neutral.[8] In 1980, after moving to Cocoa Beach, Florida, Blum formed the East Central Florida chapter of Women's Caucus for Art.[3] She also founded Women for Art, an imprimatur for the publication of catalogeus, and was a member of the New York Professional Women Artists.[3] In addition, Blum was a founding member of Central Hall Artists Gallery (est. 1973), an all-women cooperative exhibition space in Port Washington, New York.[9]


June Blum's early work focused on black-and-white abstractions, especially between 1963 and 1968, although she painted both figuratively and abstractly throughout her career.[10] She was inspired by Theodoros Stamos and Ad Reinhardt, but their forms were "not enough" because she "needed more visual involvement," according to the artist.[10] Blum's "black and whites," as she called them, have distinctive organic forms that arc, loop, and curve against a dark background.[10]

Derived from her abstractions and the influence of Happenings, Blum sporadically created "time–light–space environment events" between 1968 and 1982. The first was The Female President (1968–69), in which she posited a female commander-in-chief of the United States, conveyed abstractly through changing light effects on dancers and actors, accompanied by sounds and electronic music.[9] Other such events were Medusa (1970) and American Queen (1972), both of which concerned feminist themes that coincided with Blum's emerging activism.[9] Blum also created "conceptual documentations," likewise feminist, which included The Female Connection (1978).[11]

In the 1970s, Blum began to paint portraits of women in feminist circles, including Alice Neel (c. 1972–73), Patricia Mainardi (1974), Cindy Nemser (1975), Sylvia Sleigh (1975), and Betty Friedan.[9] For The Sister Chapel, which premiered at PS1 in 1978, she created a nine-foot portrait of Betty Friedan as the Prophet (1976), a towering figure who has just descended from a distant mountain like a biblical prophet with The Feminine Mystique tucked under her arm.[9] Friedan was Blum's main inspiration for becoming a feminist[12] and she continued to inspire the artist's work, most notably in a series of portraits and a group of "conceptual documentations," created between 1976 and 1978.[9]


June Blum was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2003 for her role in advancing the study of women in the arts.[13] In January 2011, Blum was the Veteran Feminists of America artist of the month.[12]


  1. ^ "June D. Blum Obituary". Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Feminist Art Base: June Blum". www.brooklynmuseum.org. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Love, Barbara J. (2006). Feminists Who Changed America 1963–1975. University of Illinois Press.
  4. ^ Blum, Maurice C. (1988). Love in Bloom: Poetry and Photography.
  5. ^ Works on Paper: Women Artists: Celebrating International Year of the Woman and New York City Bicentennial. Brooklyn Museum. 1975.
  6. ^ Rivera, Sophie (November 1975). "Brooklyn Museum Panels, Women's Publications & Feminist Art". Women Artists Newsletter. 1 (6): 1.
  7. ^ Marxer, Donna (November 1975). "Curators, Critics & the Economics of the Woman Artist". Women Artists Newsletter. 1 (6): 4.
  8. ^ a b Foggia, Lyla (September–October 1977). "Gender in Art: Panel Discussion—and/or, Seattle, Washington". Women Artists Newsletter. 3 (4): 1, 5.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Hottle, Andrew D. (2014). The Art of the Sister Chapel: Exemplary Women, Visionary Creators, and Feminist Collaboration. Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
  10. ^ a b c "June Blum: Black and White Paintings, 1963 through 2010". Blue Note Press. 2010.
  11. ^ Blum, June (1978). The Female Connection.
  12. ^ a b "June Blum VFA". Veteran Feminists of America.
  13. ^ "Preliminary Guide to the June Blum Papers, 1969-2005". Duke University Libraries. Retrieved 18 July 2018.