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Critique (in English)

© Yelena Yasen. Sergei Blumin. Portrait of an Artist in the Context of Success, Fame, and Destiny. New York, 2012.

© Yelena Yasen. Sergei Blumin.  2012.

Portrait of an Artist in the Context of

Success, Fame, and Destiny  

 

 

All images are protected by Digimarc against the copyright infringement.  More informaiton on:  www.sergeiblumin.com, www.sergeibluminart.wordpress.com, www.sergeiblumin.wordpress.com, and www.adonispublishing.wordpress.com

Sergei Blumin was educated as a professional musician.  In 1965 he entered the Moscow Conservatory, and in 1970 graduated from the Leningrad conservatory with honors.  Upon graduation he performed for about ten years with various music ensembles, including Chamber Orchestra of Old and Contemporary Music, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theatre, and other orchestras.  In addition to trumpet he played accordion, piano, guitar, and contra bass.

Conductor V. Chernushenko, The Chief Conductor of the State Capella; Former Rector of Leningrad Conservatory. Soloist Sergei Blumin.

During his musical path Blumin collaborated with such world-famous musicians as Evgeny Mravinsky, Mariss Jansons, Nikolay Rabinovich, Karl Eliazberg, Vakhtang Jordania, Gidon Kremer, Elizabeth Leonskaja, Boris Pergamentshikow, Yriy Temircanov, and others. Temircanov had even created once Blumin’s portrait which is now a part of Sergei’s private collection.  His musical career included thirty solo concerts of Baroque music for trumpet on the stages of Small Philharmonic Hall, St. Petersburg Capella, Usupov and Peterhoff Palaces and Pushkin Lyceum. The last solo concert Blumin performed  in 1979 in front of Cimabue frescos in Florence, where he spent six months before arriving to the United States at the end of that year.

The history of fine arts presents more than one example of combining in one individual a musician and a painter.  For instance, Benvenutto Cellini and Paul Cézanne played cornet, Curbet—cello; Kandinsky, Russo, and Klee played violin, while Braque and Tatlin (one of the most famous Russian Avant-Garde artists)—concertino. Henry Matisse began studying violin after being warned by his doctors of impending blindness.  Not incidentally, Blumin believes that an artist can’t have a better teacher than music.

At the age of nineteen, soon after entering the Conservatory and inspired by the works of Kandinsky and Klee, Sergei produced his first painting, using shoe polish, ketchup, and toothpaste. His first creation refused to dry and to the displeasure of his roommates continued to emit a rather distinct odor for three months at the Conservatory’s dormitory.  It did eventually dry and still exists in the artist’s collection today. Since then Blumin continued to pursue his interest in art alongside his musical occupation.  During the first ten years he mostly concentrated on miniature metal sculpture.  From 1974 to 1978 Sergei participated in numerous exhibits on local, regional and national level throughout the former Soviet Union.  His seven metal works were acquired then by the Moscow Historical Museum through its curator, Dr. Marina Postnikova-Loseva, the author and co-author of more than 12 monographs on Russian Metalsmith Art.

In 1972, thanks to recommendations of two recognized Soviet masters, Vladimir Gorodetsky and Boris Smirnov, Sergei was accepted into the Youth Section of Leningrad Union of Artists.  By that time Vladimir Gorodetsky was the Principal Artist-in-Charge at The Lomonosov Porcelain Factory, and Boris Smirnov was an Honored Member of The Academy of Fine Arts.  The life-long professional path, which led Smirnov to the Academy’s membership, included the authorship on the book,  Artist About the Nature of Things and the service at the Editorial Board of the two children’s magazines Chizh [Siskin] and Ezh [Hedgehog] during the first decade after the revolution; both magazines were, in a way, the branches of the most famous Russian Avant-Guarde group, Union of Real Art (OBEREU).  To illustrate the role of OBEREU in the history of Russian Avant-Garde it is enough to recall that Daniel Kharms and Nikolay Zabolotsky were the members of the group during the 1920s.  Many years later Sergei would write a minimalistic play The Talkative Parrot of Abandoned Aphrodite, which would follow OBEREU’s literature tradition (about the play see below).

In 1975 Blumin became a member of the Union of Artists, and in 1976 his first solo exhibition took place at the Tea House of the Summer Garden in St. Petersburg.  For a young artist it was an honor to be presented in The Tea House’s exhibition hall erected by Carlo Rossi, one of the most important architectural figures in the history of Russian as well as the European Classicism. However, in 1978 the splendid development of Blumin’s career was put on hold, since by that time he decided to leave the Soviet Union and emigrate to the West.

X X X

In June 1978 Blumin arrived in Vienna on his way to the U.S. He did not know at that point that a new chapter of his life would become unusually fascinating; moreover it would transform his creative development into a new direction, but destiny reached out to him.  Blumin’s personal friend—a world-known cellist, Boris Pergamentshikow—helped Sergei with some formalities, and as a result, Blumin was given a rear opportunity:  to spend a year in the capital of Austria.  It was a wonderful chance for a young artist.  The former capital of Austro-Hungarian Empire always attracted him by its previously inaccessible cultural accomplishments; now Sergei could experience them from within.  Besides, a year in Vienna turned out to become a new period in his own artistic career (detailed analysis of the Viennese period see on www.yelenayasen.wordpress.com:  Yelena Yasen. Sergei Blumin.  Metal Works, Watercolors, Oil Paintings, Austria, Vienna.  Russian Jewry in Germany and Austria.  Volume 16, Jerusalem, 2008.  pp. 419 – 432).

© S. Blumin, Renaissance, silver, gem stones, 1978

One month after his arrival to Vienna Blumin became a member of the Association of Austrian Artists (BERUFSVEREINIGUNG DER BILDENDEN KUNSTLER OSTERREICHS LANDESVERBAND FUR WIEN NIEDEROSTERREICH UND BURGENLAND), which was sponsored by the Austrian government. To illustrate Association’s artistic level one would point out that Oscar Kokoshka, a world-famous representative of German Expressionism, was one of the Association’s members. Alongside Kokosha’s art works, Blumin exhibited his Portrait of a Soviet Intellectual at the Association’s Jubilee Exhibition in that very year, when he arrived in Austria.  In the same 1978 Blumin started collaborating with two Viennese private art galleries.  He exhibited his miniature metal sculpture in the Am Graben Gallery (the owner of the gallery, Inge Assenbaum, was a leading collector of Art Deco and applied art in Europe during the 1970-1980s); and he displayed his watercolors in the Alte Shmide Gallery; besides, Sergei participated in many other art events in Austria and Germany during that period, and even after arriving in the U.S.  By the time he departed for the States, Assenbaum hosted his solo exhibition, showing thirty of his miniature metal sculptures. She chose Blumin’s broche, Renaissance, for the invitation’s card cover.  Later Renaissance participated with other Blumin’s works in the three-year world tour throughout museums and galleries of Europe, Asia, and Australia. Together with artifacts represented the art of Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance period, and the art of 17th – 20th centuries, Blumin’s work travelled to Limoges, Pforzheim, the German center of arts since the time of Albrecht DÜrer as well as to Australian and Japanese cities.  Years later, in the review on Inge Assenbaum collections published by G-Z Journal on Internet (in 2001) Blumin was characterized as a Great Russian Artist.

At the end of 1979 Sergei arrived in New York.  But in the spring of 1980 he was invited back to Vienna for participating in the World Craft Council as a guest of honor.  And he did go back, as an official representative of the U.S., to participate, in fact, in two important events—World Craft Council and International Tint Symposium.  Upon Symposium’s completion, several Blumin’s metal works were acquired by the Vienna’s Museum of Applied Art for its permanent collection.  And… another important event took place between Blumin Viennese’s period and his permanent settlement in the United States:  his half a year stay in Florence (from March to September 1979).   In his interview with the well-known Russian journalist, Maya Pritsker on RTN television network in 2005 Blumin commented on his short but extremely important stay in Florence as follows (see on www.sergeiblumin.com / interview):

© Sergei Blumin. Human World, oil on canvas, 1979

“Soon after my arrival to Rome in 1979 I met the Count Andrey Volkonsky, a former director of Madrigal, a very famous musical ensemble in Russia during the 1960s specialized on Baroque music.  Andrey introduced me to his cousin, Helen Volkonsky, and she acquainted me with the Countess Borghese, a sculptor and an ex-owner of the Villa Borghese.  On the day of the Pope Inauguration the Countess purchased my painting at the St. Peter’s Square, which was very symbolic to me, especially because right after that the Countess introduced me to the Duchess Bona Salviatti, a heiress to the line of the family of Cosimo Medici, patrons of Michelangelo. Duchess Salviatti invited me, my wife at the time, a poet Marina Temkina, and our son Daniel to live in Florence in her house, at 82 Borgo Pinti.  For several months we lived there and I had an opportunity to work from the roof of the building on my painting, the Human World.” 

Sergei started to paint the Human World earlier in Vienna.  But the origin of the painting’s figurative structure was predefined in Russia where Blumin had a rear opportunity to learn from 1975 to 1978 from a disciple and friend of one of the most significant artists of Russian Avant-Guarde, Pavel Filonov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavel_Filonov)  His name was Boris Isaakovich Gurvich. It is necessary now to deviate from Blumin’s biography in order to adequately understand the role of Filonov’s pupil in Blumin’s artistic growth (Boris Gurvich – Artist, Fine Art, Auction Records, Prices, Biography )

X X X

John Bowlt, the leading scholar on Russian Art in the United States, identifies Filonov’s role in the history of Russian Avant-Garde as well as Filonov’s artistic vision as follows:  “…powerful and distinctive vision of the apocalyptic and cosmic forces of existence, a quality, which justifiably prompted comparison (of Filonov’s art—YY) with the intense and enigmatic works of Mickleous Churlenous and Mickael Vrubel (see about Vrubel on http://www.russianartgallery.org/vrubel).  Filonov affinities with Vrubel are particularly close not only because of their very subjective renditions of themes, often taken from the mists, or Russian folklore and legends, but also because of their intense concern with technique, with what Filonov called “the madness of the picture” (John E. Bowlt, Russian Art, 1875 – 1975:  A Collection of Essays, 1976, p. 140). 

Gurvich, whom Bowlt considers as a gifted Filonov’s student (see in A Collection of Essays), shared with Sergei essential elements of Filonov’s creative revelations, which were very different from the Socialist realism’s dogmatic ideology—a domineering art movement in the Soviet Union from the beginning of the 1930s to the beginning of the 1960s.  He showed to the young artist fundamental principles of Filonov’s method; what’s more, by his own sample an older master had demonstrated to his younger colleague how not to compromise genuine creative principles for the sake of hypocritical slogans of the Soviet political system.

Gurvich collaborated with Filonov while being a member of ‘Analytical Art Society’ founded by Filonov in 1925.  When Stalin’s oppressive measures became more aggressive, ‘Analytical Art Society’s activities were terminated, along with activities of other Avant-Garde organizations.  It is a well-known fact that by the end of the 1920s – beginning of the 1930s many Soviet artists, writers, poets, and musicians were persecuted by Stalin’s tyrannical regime; some were murdered, some—were exiled into labor camps (GULAG) where they vanished without a trace.  Among innocent victims of Stalin oppressions there were such great poets as Osip Mandelshtam and Daniel Kharms, other members of OBEREU group, an artist Vera Eromolava, who collaborated with D. Kharms at Chizh [Siskin] and Ezh [Hedgehog], and thousands of others.

Filonov evaded this horrible destiny even though his personal situation was extremely stressful until the very end of his life.  In 1941 – practically – in the beginning of the Second World War he died of starvation in the first year of Leningrad siege.  Gurvich died only in 1985 but, similar to his teacher, he never enjoyed appropriate public recognition during his life-time for obvious reason:  he had never followed narrow ideological principles of the Socialist Realism in his art work.  On the contrary, “the legacy of Filonov’s theoretical and pictorial work was not entirely lost, for after his death former pupils such as Arapova and Gurvich endeavored to maintain the principles of Analytical Art” (see  in John Bowlt’s A Coolection of Essays).

In 2006 a Denmark art historian, Troels Andersen, published a monograph on Gurvich, (T. Andernsen, Boris Isaakovich Gurvich, Tri Quadrata, Moscow, 2006) which reinstated the role of Gurvich in the history of Russian Avant-Garde movements.  While T. Andersen was working on his research summarizing Gurvich’s life-time achievements, the master’s private pupil, S. Blumin, was in the beginning of his own creative path; and so now, in retrospect, it would be fair to say:  Gurvich had played the same role in Blumin’s life as Filonov played in his own, and even more…  Through Gurvich S. Blumin was given a tremendous opportunity to discern ties with an unbroken artistic trend initiated by one of the greatest Russian artists of the end of the 19th century, Michael Vrubel (John Bowlt,  A Collection of Essays).  Along with Russian Avant-Garde movements, this trend preserved authentic artistic values for contemporary culture despite unfavorable political circumstances of the thirty years of repressive Stalin’s governing.

© Sergei Blumin. A Soviet Intellectual. Sterling Silver. 1975

It is important to notice, however, that the first Blumin’s acquaintance with Vrubel took place much before his first meeting with Gurvich.  From his early childhood Sergei remembered a huge ceramic dish hanging on the wall in his parents’ apartment.  Designed by Vrubel, the dish was produced at the Russian artists’ workshop in Abramtsevo, suburban town near Moscow, at the end of the 19th century. Sergei could not take the family’s treasure to the West—the Soviet authorities would never allow taking abroad a precious artifact.  But no authority in the world could deprive him from his child’s impressions.  Those impressions formed the artist’s personality pretty early, and so by the time S. Blumin started his mentoring sessions with Gurvich, he was more than ready to absorb artistic and spiritual values which were far beyond the realm of Socialist Realism’s ideological concept.  The seed was ready to take the root.  It is enough to glance at the Portrait of a Soviet Intellectual in order to observe a very innovative approach to the subject matter, an attribute of a very self-sufficient, independent set of mind (see detailed analysis of A Portrait of a Soviet Intellectual in Yelena Yasen, S. Blumin, Metal Sculpture, Watercolor, Oil Painting (Vienna) – http://vimeo.com/109986335 (Vimeo.com)

In his interview on Russian Television Network in 2005 S. Blumin shared several episodes from his childhood which eloquently demonstrate how early his independent character manifested itself:

“From earliest years I was more autonomous than many other children. Those who are familiar with me know that I like collecting antiques. When I was two year old, my father, a military doctor, went to Kaliningrad, former Keningsburg, to see if he would want to transfer to Kaliningrad Military County. There, in the junk yard I found a cup with a portrait of Emperor Wilhelm with a special cross-piece to protect mustaches from getting wet. Being two years of age and in a very business-like manner I took this cup and my grandfather drank tea from it until I left Russia.  Besides, since I was eight, I traveled by train across the entire Soviet Union by myself. That is, my parents would put me on the train in Baku and give money to a conductor, and my grandfather would meet me in Leningrad.  Back then it took three days to ride through the whole country.  And so I learned at which station they sold fresh cherries, or pickles, etc.  So, I was quite independent.  Also, my interest in tools showed very early: in one of my classes I was so impressed by hand-made workshop activities that once I shoved a great number of metal tools into my pants… bevels, hammers, nippers and so on. My teacher stopped me saying “Hey, fellow, you’re walking in a strange way.” He determined that I had some stuff inside my pants and asked to return all of it, which I did, but my love for tools remained for the rest of my life” (see an ‘Interview’ on the website).

It is interesting that during Sergei’s adolescent upbringing, atmosphere in his household pretty much contributed to the development of his independent persona thanks to a very special circumstance.  His mother’s cousin, Lev Petrov, was married to the granddaughter of the president of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, Nikita Krushchev.  Sergei parents used to visit his uncle, L. Petrov, for dinner’s parties where they joined Krushchev’s family, which, obviously, was pretty unusual, especially because L. Petrov himself was quite a significant figure on the Soviet cultural scene during the 1960s.  Foreign correspondent of TASS, and translator of the Moveable Feast by  Ernst Hemingway—one of the most famous novels in the 20th century—he had been a privileged representative of the official Soviet elite, which had a rear opportunity to have an access to forbidden books, movies, theater shows, etc.  It is kind of ironic that through his uncle Sergei learned (while in his teens) many Russian criminal-folk (outcast) songs, not easily accessible to common citizens in the Soviet Union who were still living then behind the Iron Curtain. Who could have thought then that more than fifty years later S. Blumin would translate these songs into English and employ their content to his hand-made books based on a popular genre among many Russian Avant-Garde artists during the 1910s-1930s: V. Tatlin, A. Rodchenko, El Lisitsky, P. Miturich, V. Ermolaeva, Burliuk brothers, L. Popova, N. Goncharova, O. Rozanova, and others.

By combining this tradition with modern computer technology S. Blumin created one of his most original incomparable series which elevated anonymous outcast poems up to the level of troubadour medieval poetry (see ‘Book Covers’ on:  www.sergeibluminart.wordpress.com). Also see on Youtube.com Yelena Yasen’s 8-part series – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsW6P_K2bwXbnRrVaeFHnOQ/videos – dedicated to Sergei Blumin’s unique artistic interpretations of the outcast songs circa 1910 .- 1950.

In 2002 The New York Museum of Modern Art published the catalogue dedicated to the museum’s exhibition on Russian Avant-Garde hand-made books —The Russian Avant-Garde Book 1910-1934 (The Museum of Modern Art, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 2002).  The exhibition was based on The Judith Rothschild Foundation’s collection; in turn, “the single most important donor and collector/scholar… who made collecting this material his life’s work” was “the Russian-born Boris Kerdimum… a legend in bibliophilic circles.”  It is important to emphasize is that ten years prior to the exhibition in The Museum of Modern Art B. Kerdimun added five paintings by S. Blumin to his collection (about B. Kerdimun see in:  The Russian Avant-Garde Book 1910-1934, Donor’s Statement by Harvey S. Shipley Miller, Trustee, The Judith Rothschild Foundation, p. 8).

XXX

Thirty five years separate the Human World, which S. Blumin started creating in Florence, and his hand-made books—a very long creative journey.   Throughout this journey S. Blumin has achieved truly extraordinary results in developing his own unique style, which is unmistakably recognizable in any media he employs for his art works.  The artist’s style is based on his diverse artistic and cultural interests and incorporates a variety of artistic traditions from prehistoric cave painting through the multiplicity of artistic developments into contemporary synthetic idiom.

Even in the Human World, one of his first oil paintings obviously created under the influence of Sergei’s Leningrad mentor, B. Gurvich, the young artist found the way to build up on Vrubel-Filonov-Gurvich artistic line quite ingeniously.  As much as his Human World is visually close to Vrubel’s and Filonov’s multifaceted images and as much as this painting technically resembles Gurvich’s half-abstract structures… still, a very different philosophical approach defines Blumin’s work, and that is a feeling of expectation of somewhat unusually beautiful, some kind of promising anticipation of  never-ending possibilities which penetrate the endless, borderless cosmos.  That is what differentiates Blumin’s images from tragic paintings of Vrubel and Filonov as well as from emotionally reserved Gurvich’s intangible compositions.

© S. Blumin, The First Angel of Apocalypses, watercolor, 1978

To put it in a different way, even in one of his very first art works Sergei was able to express a positive feeling of a fairy-tale like mystery which makes life remarkable and worth living.  This type of vision would become quintessential for all artist’s creations throughout his entire career.  It seems to be pretty significant in our anti-humanistic age, especially  if one recalls that this very approach has been authentic for art throughout thousands of years all around the world until the end of the 19th century.  And so there is no accident that thirty five years later after creating the Human World S. Blumin defined himself as Post-Dehumanist.

x x x

S. Blumin’s professional musical training played an essential role in his approach to the subject matter in the  Human World, as well as in his watercolors, which were displayed in Vienna during 1978 (see above), and which were stylistically closed to the Human World.   In all works of that period the artist used exquisite colors correlations and tints juxtapositions which were not supported by contours or outlines.  Instead he used manifold spots of shadings, which literary play musical melodies—lyrical or tragic, melancholic or ecstatic, sometimes—as main themes, sometimes—as echoes of backgrounds… pure work of brushes.

As it was pointed out before, Sergei started the Human World in Vienna, but completed it in Florence, where he was invited to live by the Duchess Bona Salviatti, a heiress to the line of the family of Cosimo Medici, patrons of Michelangelo. What a splendid, rear opportunity!  But besides, six months stay in Italy had played an extremely important role in the artist’s future: in addition to working on the Human World, S. Blumin thoroughly studied in Italy the art of Renaissance—its painting, sculpture, architecture, and… the very atmosphere of Italian culture of more than 2000 years old; and there, in Italy, S. Blumin made one of the most important decisions in his entire life.  As much as Sergei loved music, in Florence he performed his last solo concert, with the Tuscany Symphony—Baroque Concert for Trumpet by Torelli—in front of Cimabue frescos in Basilica Di Santa Croce, where Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and many other world-famous artists performed as well. From that point forward Sergei saw himself solely as a painter. Today it can be said with certainty:  S. Blumin realized his intentions in a much more fulfilling way than he was probably able to imagine by himself, while working on his first painting in Florence where he arrived from Vienna in the spring 1979.

Thus, the decision had been made, and so when in the spring 1980 S. Blumin returned from Vienna’s International Tint Symposium back to the United States, the main focus of his professional path was apparent to him.  Dozens of studies from a female model had been made in the beginning of that path in order to explore the possibilities of linear drawing while depicting a nude female figure (see the post Pencil at www.sergeibluminart.wordpress.com); many sketches of paintings by Rembrandt, Velasquez, Rubens, Hals, and other artists of the past had been created in the Metropolitan Museum of Arts to learn from Old Masters, as it was done by numerous students of art academies before; dozens of books on oil painting technique and composition as well as on the history of art had been read, as a result of which Sergei’s appreciation of authentic mission of art was elevated significantly.

XXX

Pretty soon after his settlement in New York S. Blumin became quite a noticeable figure within Russian émigré community, as well as on New York art scene. The first series of his oil paintings was exhibited in Podval gallery (Basement) of Konstantin Kuzminsky, an exceptional representative of Russian emigration of the third wave:  an editor of the 9-volume collection of Russian literature and art works—Blue Lagoon Anthology of Modern Russian Poetry (see: Konstantyn K. Kuzminsky – Wikipedia), a poet, firstly published in New York in 1972 together with Joseph Brodsky (see: Konstantin and Mouse – AZ FILMS), a performer, who aspired to reveal through his own flamboyant (if not scandal) behavior the most exotic conducts of the artists of Russian Avant-Garde, K. Kuzminsky had played a significant role in life of Russian cultural community during the 1980s. 

In the beginning of the 1980s K. Kuzminsky’s opened an art gallery in Williamsburg where artists from all over New York City only started to settle then; so, in a way, Konstantin became a pioneer in an important movement among New York artists of that period. The gallery exhibition space was converted from an old retail store; it attracted many Russians and Americans from bohemian milieu as well as representatives of various cultural circles—poets, artists, musicians, art historians, architects.  S. Dovlatov, K. Shemiakin, S. Volkov,  I. Tulpanov, U. Oleshkovsky, Y. Vinkovetsky, V. I. Guberman, V. Teteriatnikov and many others visited Podval for the art shows’ openings as well as for private gatherings.  B. Kerdimun bought four Blumin’s still-lives and the painting “Bacchus” for his collection after he had seen S. Blumin’s works at K. Kuzminksy Podval.  A famous collector of Russian non-conformist art, Norton Dodge, periodically visited K. Kuzminsky Gallery (see the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art From the Soviet Union); J. Bowlt used to come to Podval as well.  S. Blumin’s participated in several exhibitions in Podval in the first half of the 1980s.   Besides, his oil tracings (see www.sergeiblumin.com) found their place in K. Kusminsky anthology and one of the first essays on his oil paintings was written then by a former staff member of the State Hermitage Museum, Nely Rakovsky, who later was employed by the Metropolitan Museum of Arts (An Assay about an Artist, 1983, www.sergeiblumin.wordpress.com).

After his first show in Podval, Sergei began actively displaying his art in other New York art galleries.  In total, throughout his life-long career the artist’s works were subject of nine solo and – approximately – forty group exhibitions in Russia, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Japan, Australia, and the United States.  In New York Sergei exhibited his oil paintings in the Alex Edmund, Mimi Ferzt, Z-Gallery/Central Fine Arts, LMG, Nicolas Alexander, and Grant Galleries (see posts on: ww.sergeibluminart.wordpress.com).  In a parallel way, during the 1980s, Blumin’s miniature metal sculpture was displayed  in the Spring Street Enamels, Neil Isman, Caroline Hill, and Helen Drutt galleries (see a note about Helen Drutt below).  In 1982 he became a Distinguished Member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths, and first articles on  his metal works were published in the Goldsmiths Journal, where his art was described as “strong, imaginative, and radiating atmosphere” (Antonia Schwed, Second Holiday Invitational, see on:  www.sergeiblumin.wordpress.com; also see ‘Metal work on:  www.sergeiblumin.com).

Blumin’s desire to experiment with different artistic media accompanied him from his early childhood.  When the artist was eight year old, he used to collect scraps of led tubes from telephone cables lolling in abundance in the yards of a military town in Baku (where his father served as a military doctor), melted them into ingots in the children’s tin bucket placed on the primus, and then sold them to the scrap metal center in the neighborhood.  At the age of nine he constructed his own scooter, which successfully served the young constructor for several years. At the same time, the boy made fretwork out of wood, loved to embroider in Bulgarian style, created little boxes out of the old post-cards, and… played accordion.

Years later, when Sergei was already a student at conservatory, simultaneously with serious music studies, he worked with leno-cuts, for a short period of time did chasing, and, practically, at the same time, started working with metal. Finally, as a professional artist S. Blumin (first, in Russia and, later, in the U.S.)  has created thousands of pencil drawings, miniature metal and wooden sculptures, pastels and oil tracings, temperas and watercolors, encaustics and oil paintings.  Sergei’s love for mechanical tools accompanied him from his early years, enabled him to produce incomparable paper and fabric collages, mixed media sculptures and reliefs. During the 1990s and, later, in 2000s he successfully implemented the newest computer technology in creating his computer graphics and photographic designs (see The Meaning of the Sign on www.sergeiblum.wordpress.com)   Besides, Sergei brought into being several scripts, theatrical plays, and wrote splendid poetry in Russian and English (see his The Talkative Parrot or Abandoned Aphrodite published on www.sergeiblumin.wordpress.com; on www.youtube.com see the reading of his play and poetry).

As it was mentioned before, one of the most original Blumin’s creations became his series of hand-made books, which was partically influenced by the exhibition of six Russian Avant-Garde artists, Alexandra Exter, Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova, and Nadezhda Udaltsova.  The exhibition took place at the Guggenheim museum in New York in 2000.  It was part of a massive project the purpose of which was to consequently display the works of six Russian female artists in Berlin, London, Venice, Bilbao, Moscow, and the United States from 1999 to 2001.  A catalogue, The Amazons of the Avant-Garde: Alexandra Exter, Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova, and Nadezhda Udaltsova, published by Solomon Guggenheim Museum in the same year 2000 was edited by two reputable art critics, John E. Bowlt and Mathew Drutt, the son of Helen Drutt – an educator on contemporary art subjects as well as a reputable American art dealer and the owner of the art gallery, where during the end of the 1980s – beginning of the 1990s S. Blumin exhibited his metal objects on a regular basis.  What an interesting coincidence!

(To be continued…)

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About Yelena Yasen

Yelena Yasen (Елена Ясногородская): M.A. in Art History and Criticism from The Academy of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Russia. Work history includes: The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; Brooklyn Museum, New York; New School for Social Research, New York. Presently: College Professor, Writer, Art Designer; an author of "Russian Children's Book Illustration or Another Chapter in the History of Russian Avant-Garde" (Institute of Modern Russian Culture, University of Southern California, Archive) and more than 30 published articles in Russian and English.

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