Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Albert Bloch

Albert J. Bloch was born in St. Louis, Missouri on August 2, 1882, according to the Social Security Death Index and his passport applications (above passport photo). He was the first of four children born to Theodore and Emma, as recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Bloch’s occupation was clerk in a dry goods store. For the St. Louis Star, he produced Professor Wayupski, which ran from May 25 to June 8, 1902.

Bloch was in Europe when the 1910 and 1920 censuses were enumerated. A 1919 passenger list, at, recorded his first son, Bernard, with a June 18, 1907 birth in New York City, and second, Walter, with an April 13, 1916 birth in Munich, Bavaria. Bloch’s art endeavors in Europe were not wholly embraced as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), January 12, 1913:

Radical Exhibit at Sketch Club
Small Pieces by Albert Bloch, Brought Here by Gordon M. McCouch, From Munich, Give Philadelphia First Glimpse of New Movement

While the galleries of the Pennsylvania Academy are hung with two of the safest and sanest exhibitions in the world, and while the Corcoran Gallery exploits as the latest novelty in exhibitions a collection of pictures for pictures’ sake, it remains for the Philadelphia Sketch Club to bring to our starving vision its first authorized glimpse of the new movement which is agitating the whole world, and whose message must sooner or later be accepted by the public and the profession, be it ever so reluctant….

The Sketch Club’s little offering comes through one Gordon Mallet McCouch, a member recently returned from Munich, who brings with him a few sketches by his friend, Albert Bloch. And the effort is a mere tentacle. The sketches do not amount to very much, either for Mr. Bloch or for the movement. Better things are hidden away right here in Philadelphia, but what is admirable is that the Sketch Club, hating these pictures with a good old fashioned hatred, should yet be broad-minded enough to offer to young Mr. Bloch a forum—to give him, as it were, a hearing.

“We’ll show it, but we don’t have to like it,” one of the older members remarked. But everybody is curious about it, and this little entering wedge will have its effect.

Cartoons Magazine, November 1915, noted Bloch’s artist development.

The Bizarreries of Albert Bloch
Albert Bloch, once cartoonist and caricaturist of Reedy's Mirror, of St. Louis, now of Munich, has 25 of his most recent paintings on exhibition at the City Art Museum of St. Louis. Among them is a portrait of Robert Minor, the cartoonist of the New York Call. Speaking of the paintings, Reedy's Mirror says: “They are to the Greeks foolishness. They are not after-impressionist, but before-impressionist and beyond….The exhibit is an escape from the conventional into a realm of almost, if not quite, pure art—wherein painting enters as does music.”

Excerpts from a University of Kansas Relations press release (January 24, 1997), and web site, “Rediscovering Albert Bloch at the University of Kansas”:

…Albert Bloch was trained in a local art school….Bloch began his career as a newspaper illustrator. He drew cartoons, caricatures and cover illustrations for the literary weekly The Mirror from 1905 to 1908. In 1908, Bloch went to Europe to continue his artistic training. In 1911, Kandinsky, along with his friend Franz Marc, visited Bloch’s studio and soon invited Bloch to join them in their new venture, the first exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), which opened in Munich in December 1911. Bloch showed six canvases in the first Blue Rider exhibition. Thereafter Bloch participated in other major avant-garde shows in Europe. Following his return to the United States, Bloch taught for a year at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago (1922-23) before accepting the position of head of the department of painting and drawing at the University of Kansas in the fall of 1923. For the next twenty-four years, Bloch taught art and art history at the University….

1913 Bloch Painting, Das Gruene Gewand

Bloch’s opinions on an art event were published in the World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), November 24, 1927:

Raps Art Exhibits
Closing Speaker at Lincoln Meeting Strikes Discordant Note.

Lincoln, Neb., Nov. 23 (AP).—The atmosphere of sweetness and light which had marked the three-day session of the western section convention of the American Federation of Art was disturbed by the closing speaker at the Wednesday afternoon meeting, Albert Bloch, of the University of Kansas, who first criticized the extensiveness of the exhibits sent out by the federation, and next the quality of some of the paintings.

“The public is helpless,” said Mr. Bloch, “and will take anything you feed it.” He then criticized the quality of pictures sent out from the metropolitan museum of New York through the American federation.

In the 1930 census, Bloch, his wife Hortense and son Walter lived in Lawrence, Kansas at 1015 Alabama Street. He married when he was 23 years old and his occupation was artist teacher at Kansas University. The Wyandotte Echo, (Kansas City, Kansas), December 18, 1931, reported an exhibition at Bloch’s school.

University of Kansas Views Work of Negro Artists
Lawrence, Kans. (By L. Bluford for A.N.P.)—The work of twenty-eight Negro artists is on display during the month of December at the Spooner-Thayer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. The exhibit, which includes 39 paintings, was loaned by the Harmon Foundation of Art at New York, an organization which encourages individual artistic pursuits.

Prof. Albert Bloch of the University painting department says of the exhibition:

“The American Negro in his cultural activities compares on the whole very favorably with his white neighbors, and in many instances the work of these artists is distinguished by a straightforward boldness and honesty which is not always to be found in the work of their accepted white contemporaries.”

He had the same residence and occupation in the 1940 census. According to the Social Security Death Index, Bloch passed away in December 1961, in Lawrence, Kansas. A selection of Bloch’s paintings can be viewed here.


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]