January 5, 1909
|Died||March 13, 1999 (aged 90)|
Gualala, California, United States
|Education||École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts|
|Known for||Sculpture, painting, photography|
|Spouse||Stephen Pope Dimitroff|
Lucienne Bloch (January 5, 1909 – March 13, 1999) was a Switzerland-born American artist. She was best known for her murals and for her association with the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, for whom she produced the only existing photographs of Rivera's mural Man at the Crossroads, painted in 1933 and destroyed in January 1934 at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
A multi-talented artist, Lucienne attended the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris at 14, apprenticing with sculptor Antoine Bourdelle and painter Andre Lhote. Her close friend Beniamino Bufano also influenced her sculpture.
With Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo
In 1929, she pioneered the design of glass sculpture for the Royal Leerdam Crystal Glass Factory in the Netherlands. When Frank Lloyd Wright saw her glass works and spoke with her in New York, he invited her to teach at his architectural school, Taliesin East, where she worked with artist and muralist Santiago Martínez Delgado and other Taliesin fellows.
Then, in 1931, Bloch had met and began her apprenticeship with Diego Rivera on his frescoes in New York (1931, 1933) and Detroit (1932). She also formed a close friendship with Rivera's wife Frida Kahlo, and they became each other's companion and confidant. In 1932 she accompanied Kahlo to Mexico when Kahlo's mother became ill. She was also with Kahlo in Detroit when Kahlo had her miscarriage.
A prolific photographer, Bloch contributed many photographs of Rivera and Kahlo to biographical works about them. She took the only existing photographs of Rivera's (controversially) destroyed mural, Man at the Crossroads, in Rockefeller Center Plaza in New York City. She created five portfolios of photographs of Rivera and Kahlo, including photos of Kahlo's paintings in progress, and the artists in New York City, Detroit, and Mexico. The apprentices there were: Bloch, Stephen Pope Dimitroff, Lou Block, Arthur Niendorf, Seymour Fogel, Hideo Noda, and Antonio Sanchez Flores.
With Stephen Pope Dimitroff
From 1935 to 1939, Bloch was employed by the WPA/FAP (Works Progress Administration/Federal Arts Project). As a WPA/FAP artist, she completed murals for public buildings, including the House of Detention for Women in New York City, and the Fort Thomas, Kentucky post office. She also worked free-lance as a photographer for Life magazine. For Life she record the desperate conditions of autoworkers during labor strikes and protests that occurred throughout the U.S. during the formation of automobile worker unions.
She and Dimitroff created nearly 50 murals across the United States for religious institutions, schools, hospitals, and businesses. Dimitroff died in 1996 on their farm in Gualala, California.
Bloch worked in many types of media: photography, fresco, woodblock cuts, lithographs, mosaics, egg tempera, watercolor, wood and glass sculpture, terra cotta, portraits in ink, gesso, and oil.
Bloch’s most significant work exists as a 1000 square foot mural painted inside the back wall of the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mostly neutral in tone with some golden yellows and muted oranges, this abstract mural stands as a beautiful testament to modern art.(The Conservation Center, http://www.theconservationcenter.com/articles/2628056-lucienne-from-the-bloch-conserving-a)
She also illustrated numerous children's books, of which the Library of Congress lists:
- I Want to Fly, by Anita Brenner, (1943)
- Willie's Walk to Grandmama, by Margaret Wise Brown and Rockbridge Campbell (1944)
- Keep Singing, Keep Humming: A Collection of Play and Story Songs, by Margaret Bradford Boni (1946)
- Smart Little Boy and His Smart Little Kitty, by Louise Woodcock (1947)
- Is it Hard? Is it Easy? by Mary McBurney Green (1948)
- Everybody Eats, by Mary McBurney Green (1950)
- Sandpipers, Edith Thacher Hurd (1961)
- Starfish, Edith Thacher Hurd (1962)
Bloch married Dimitroff in 1936 in Flint, Michigan.
They had three children; George Ernest Dimitroff, born July 22, 1938, Pencho Bloch Dimitroff, born August 3, 1941, and Sita Dimitroff (Milchev) born December 25, 1943.
One grandchild, her namesake, Lucienne Allen, maintains her legacy from the family farm, "Old Stage Studios," in Gualala.
- Thomas, Jr., Robert McG. (March 28, 1999). "Lucienne Bloch, Muralist, Is Dead at 90". New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
- Rubinstein, Charlotte (1982). American Women Artists: from early Indian times to the present. Boston, MA: Avon. p. 220. ISBN 0380611015.
- "Lucienne Bloch | Old Stage Studios". www.luciennebloch.com. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "OBITUARY -- Stephen Dimitroff, Muralist, Framer". SFGate. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
- Thomas, Robert McG Jr. (1999-03-28). "Lucienne Bloch, Muralist, Is Dead at 90". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
- Lucienne Bloch on Artsy
- Columbus Museum of Art Web page on Bloch's 1935 woodcut Land of Plenty (click on picture for larger image)
- Fresco workshop - Lucienne Block and Stephen Pope Dimitroff
- Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution: Oral History Interview