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March of the Clowns

Albert Bloch (American, 1882-1961)

March of the Clowns, 1941

  • Oil on canvas mounted on composition board
  • 36 x 40 in. (91.4 x 101.6 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Oscar and Regina Gruss Memorial Fund, 2001-42

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March of the Clowns

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Albert Bloch was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1881. He began his artistic career as an illustrator and cartoonist for The Mirror, a weekly literary and political newspaper. (Evidence of his early experience in cartooning can be seen in the painting March of the Clowns.) In 1909, Bloch sailed for Europe. He spent most of the following decade in Germany working as an artist. He became known for his richly colored, emotionally charged figurative paintings.

Bloch was the only American-born member of the Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter in German), a group of artists founded by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc in Germany in 1911. Bloch met these two artists on his first visit to Munich, and they included six of his paintings in the group's first exhibition. The Blue Rider artists strove to express spiritual truths through art and the symbolic use of color, and they stressed the connections between visual art and other art forms, including music. The artists differed in their specific styles and techniques. What they had in common was that their art was in the service of "an outward expression of an inner feeling."

Bloch returned to the United States in 1921. From 1923 to 1947, he served as the Head of the Department of Drawing and Painting at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. He died in 1961.