LAWRENCE – After 33 years of long-term loan to the Spencer Museum of Art, Albert Bloch’s large painting “Frieze for a Music Room” has joined the museum’s permanent collection. The painting, acquired as a partial donation from the Albert Bloch Foundation, features a large composition filled with some of Bloch’s iconic subjects: clowns and commedia dell’arte figures.
David Cateforis, a professor at the University of Kansas and chairman of the Kress Foundation’s art history department, said the work is Bloch’s most ambitious in terms of scale and that his masterful depiction of movement , nature, figures and music represents the artist at the height of his career.
“’Frieze for a Music Room’ is one of Bloch’s most important paintings of the 1910s,” Cateforis said. “His addition to the collection greatly strengthens the museum’s collections of early 20th century European and American modernist art.”
Bloch, the only American member of the group Blue Rider, which also included Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky, painted “Frieze for a Music Room” in 1915 in the middle of his 12-year stay in Germany. After returning to the United States, Bloch eventually assumed the post of department head at the KU School of Fine Arts.
“The painting is a seminal work of his early German period and in many ways it encapsulates the undercurrents he brought to Lawrence to inspire his students during those early years of teaching the courses. art at KU, “said Scott Heffley, chairman of the Albert Bloch Foundation and senior curator of paintings at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.
Susan Earle, Spencer’s curator for European and American art, said the painting was likely created as a wall or decorative decoration for a domestic music room. The painting was originally loaned to the Spencer by Anna Bloch, the widow of Albert Bloch. In 2003, the ownership of the painting was transferred from Anna to the Albert Bloch Foundation. It has been on display almost permanently in the museum’s galleries since its loan to the Spencer in 1983.
Earle said the painting was an integral part of the museum’s identity.
“This painting complements other works by Bloch in our collection and is an exceptional tribute to Bloch’s memory and his exceptional legacy at the University of Kansas,” said Earle.
“Frieze for a Music Room” will be visible in Gallery 20/21 when the museum reopens to the public October 15 after completing a major renovation.