Sergei Blumin – Metalsmith Artist
Written and compiled in
New York, 2018
Multiple examples of Sergei Blumin’s metal art works created by him in Russia, Austria,
Italy and America, as well as related documents and photographs, are presented in
SERGEI BLUMIN’S FIVE-PART VISUAL BIOGRAPHY ON:
AND SOME OTHER INTERNET SITES:
Sergei Blumin began pursuing his artistic career in the second half of the 1960s, while being a trumpet player student at the Moscow conservatory. During that time he tried his hand at woodcuts and linocuts, created his first wooden sculpture (Eve), and his first painting, made of ketchup, shoe polish and toothpaste (Lovers in the Night).
Nevertheless, during the first ten years of his creative journey the artist’s main interest was directed toward jewelry objects and miniature metal sculptures. In 1973 (around the time, when Blumin started exhibiting his metal art pieces on local, regional and national level) his seven metal art works were acquired by Dr. Postnikova-Loseva, the author and co-author of more than twelve monographs on Russian gold- and silversmith art, for The State Historical Museum of Russia in Moscow.
In 1975 the young master became a member of the Youth Section of the St. Petersburg Union of Artists, where he was recommended by the Principal Artist-in-Charge at The Lomonosov Porcelain Factory, Vladimir Gorodetsky, and the Honored Member of The Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Boris Smirnov. The Union awarded Sergei with the two months’ artist-in-residence program in Palanga, Lithuania, where he had created twelve metal art objects, including such outstanding pieces as Organ Player, Shostakovich, the Summer Garden’s series, etc. By the end of the program all his works participated in the group exhibition at Palanga’s Exhibition Hall.
In 1976 Blumin enjoyed his first personal art show of thirty metal art objects, which took place at the Tea House in the St. Petersburg’s Summer Garden. It was an honor for Sergei, who was still in the beginning of his career, to be exhibited at the classical Tea House erected by Ludwig Charlemagne in the Summer Garden in 1827, while the Summer Garden itself was founded by Peter the Great in 1703, along with St. Petersburg, a new capital of Russia, that symbolized Peter’s victory over Sweden, which gave to the Russian tsar the Baltic Sea. Many years later, perhaps, as the tribute to his early artistic success, Blumin would create two remarkable Peter’s depictions, in two different media though: the mixed media sculptural head made of wood, linen and modeling paste, and a bust-length graphic portrait emanated out of one of the first computer’s graphics programs of the 1990s. One factor, however, would unify both Peter’s representations —a new country of Sergei’s residence. The fact of the matter is that in 1978 Blumin immigrated to the United States.
On the way to his final destination the artist arrived to Vienna, where a rather unexpected surprise was waiting for him. Sergei’s close friend, a world-famous Gold Medalist of the International Tchaikovsky’s Competition in Moscow in 1970, cellist Boris Piergamienszczikow, who was residing in Germany then, helped Blumin with necessary paper work, along with the President of the International Rescue Committee, Dr. Faustus, who years ago helped with necessary formalities to Mark Chagall. As a result, Sergei did spend in Austria a year. That year happened to become a very significant year in the artist’s professional development as a metalsmith artist.
Three months after Blumin’s arrival to Vienna, the Austrian Ministry of Culture recommended him for a membership at the Austrian Union of Artists (Berufsvereinigung der Bildenden Kunstler Osterreichs Zentralverbent). That membership provided Sergei with an exceptional opportunity to exhibit his miniature metal sculpture, Portrait of a Soviet Intellectual, along with the art works of the great master of German expressionism, Oskar Kokoschka. Until today the artist considers this as a matter of honor, especially because the Austrian Union engaged for its exhibitions Vienna’s historical and cultural landmark—City Hall (Altes Ruthaus). Around the time when Portrait of a Soviet Intellectual was exhibited in the Altes Ruthaus, a series of Blumin’s watercolors created by him in Austria was displayed at the Christmas group exhibition in the Alte Shmide Gallery, one of oldest art galleries in Vienna. But, probably, the most important development, which took place in the capital of Austria, was Sergei’s acquaintance with the owner of the Am Graben Gallery, Inge Asenbaum, with whom he had established a friendly professional relationship soon after his arrival.
During the 1970s -1980s Ms. Asenbaum was the leading collector of metal art pieces and jewelry objects in Europe. In 1980, by the time when Blumin was already permanently living in the United States, she hosted a solo exhibition of his metal art works. Such pieces as Paradise, Renaissance, Russian Souvenir-the Kike, Violin Player, The Poet and many others were exhibited by Inge Asenbaum in her gallery—about thirty in total; about twenty were sold to the private collectors. For the exhibition’s invitation card Ms. Asenbaum had chosen Blumin’s relief Renaissance. The pendant Paradise she bought for herself.
In September 2017 Sergei Blumin was contacted by Dr. Beatriz Chador-Sampson, who informed him that in 2015–thirty five years after his personal show at the Am Graben Gallery–the entire Asenbaum’s collection was donated to the Dallas Museum of Art by American art connoisseur, Ms. Deedie Potter Rose. So, in a way, Inge Asenbaum paved the road for an outstanding Blumin’s art piece to its permanent home at a highly respected American museum. However, Ms. Asenbaum did much more for a young talented artist, after all.
Per her recommendation, upon completion of Sergei’s personal exhibition at the Am Graben Gallery, his five metal art pieces, including Renaissance, took participation in the three-year International Enamel Travelling Art Show throughout museums and galleries of Europe, Asia, and Australia. Historical scope of the show was no less impressive than the geographical one, for it included artifacts from Ancient Egypt through Renaissance period up to 17th – 20th centuries. Finally, Inge Asenbaum connected Sergei with the University of Applied Arts (Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien)—an organizer of the Tin Symposium in Vienna in 1980, while another important cultural event, the World Craft Council Conference, took place in the capital of Austria. Sergei was invited to participate in both events as an honored representative of the United States.
At the Tin Symposium Blumin created more than ten metal art works, including a magnificent Ryder. Upon Symposium’s completion the artist’s five art objects were acquired by the Museum of Applied Art in Vienna. It is worth to recall that by the time of acquisition of Sergei’s metal sculptures by the Applied Art’s Museum the artist accumulated a pretty impressive collection of articles and catalogue descriptions dedicated to his art works. One specific article by Gerhard Puscala published in 1979 by German magazine, Tendencies of Epoch (Uhrenjournal), deserves a special recognition thanks to an impressive quantity of illustrations, which all together serve as a distinctive evidence of uniqueness of Sergei Blumin’s creative style.
One more positive occurrence took place during Sergei’s participation in several cultural events in Vienna in 1980, and that was his acquaintance with a well-known educator and art dealer, Ms. Helen W. Drutt English. As a result of this acquaintance, Ms. Drutt started exhibiting Blumin’s metal art pieces in her New York Art Gallery on the Fifth Avenue at 57th Street during the second half of the 1980s. In 1988 Blumin’s metal relief, Declaration of Love, was purchased from the gallery’s display by another respected American art connoisseur, Ms. Lois Boardman. In 2015, when Ms. Rose bestowed Inge Asenbaum’s more than 700 art jewelry pieces to the Dallas Museum of Art, Ms. Boardman donated her jewelry collection to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. That is how the second Blumin’s art object found its way to another prestigious American museum.
As much as Blumin relished his presence in Vienna, considering his professional success there, at some point he had to continue his journey to the country of his new residence. In March 1979 the artist left Vienna and arrived in Rome. There, in Rome, he was awarded by another incredible surprise. That is how Sergei described it by himself in his interview with an art and musical critic, Maya Pritsker, in his interview on RTV network in 2005:
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 in 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. During the Easter Service of Pope, Paul the II, the Countess purchased my art work at the St. Peter’s Square, which was very symbolic to me, especially because right after that she 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 ex-wife, a poet Marina Temkina, and our son Daniel to live in Florence in her house, at 82 Borgo Pinti. So for half a year we lived there and I had an opportunity to work on the roof of the building on my painting, the Human World. During that time some workers were painting the building in the area, and eventually completed all of it. They used to joke: “Look, fellow, you are still working on your painting and we have already finished painting the entire house 
The above citation is important not only because it describes almost fantastic chain of events happened to Blumin in Italy, but because his six-months stay there did have a pretty strong effect over Sergei’s artistic preferences for many years to come, and there was a reason for that. For the first time in his life the artist was given a miraculous chance to study firsthand the heritage of Italian Renaissance, its architecture, sculpture, and, of course, the old masters. It is impossible to overestimate the influence of Renaissance art on Blumin’s professional growth, moreover, on his very psyche, which he acknowledged by himself as follows:
As a painter I evolved already in the West [meaning, The United States—yy], during the past thirty years. Oil painting is such a serious technique… Besides, the only education I have ever received was self-education… At one time I was convinced that Benvenutto Cellini’s soul migrated into mine… I had all of that in my hands. For example, the painting technique I use is the same one used by Van Eyck<…>.
As time had shown, Blumin did evolve in an outstanding contemporary oil painter in The United States. In the beginning of his life in America the artist was working on challenges similar to the ones he pursued in the Human World, while continuing his metalsmith activities.. However, his preferences were later replaced by the new ones, and the reason for that was that throughout his entire professional career Sergei Blumin had never rigorously restricted himself by any specific medium. Even though he was intensely inclined toward oil painting technique after his residing in Italy, in a parallel way he was always experimenting with different artistic methods as well, and in the process invented his own. 
In the meantime, still in 1979, while staying in Florence, Blumin did prepare for his scheduled show at the Am Graben Gallery in Vienna dozens of miniature metal art objects, to which he added many more, later in New York. In fact, Sergei started exhibiting his metal art in The United States three months after his arrival to America in November 1979—at first, by establishing a creative collaboration with the Spring Street Enamels Gallery, and later—with the Neal Esman Gallery (where one of Blumin’s brooches attracted attention of Robin Williams, who bought it from the gallery’s display in 1986). It seems almost symbolic that one month after completion of Sergei’s personal exhibition at the Am Graben Gallery in Austria in March 1980, the Goldsmith Journal published in America (in its April issue of 1980) a review on Blumin’s participation in the exhibition at the Spring Street Enamels Gallery written by Antonia Schwed.
As a sign of recognition of Blumin’s achievements in the area of metalsmithing, the Society of North American Goldsmiths awarded him with its membership in 1982. The number of members at the Society was limited then by one hundred people selected from the entire American Northern Continent. So it was an honor for Sergei to be accepted by this particular group of metalsmith artists from Mexico, Canada and the United States.
To summarize, during the 1980s, while keeping the main focus on his oil paintings endeavors, Blumin continued actively working on his metal art pieces; moreover, he created then some of his best metal art works such as Declaration of Love, which, as stated above, now belongs to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 1992 American Magazine Ornament published an article, which goal was to summarize artistic achievements in the art of goldsmith in America during the last fifteen years. Two Blumin’s gold reliefs, similar in style, were reproduced in the article; one of them was Declaration of Love.
During the same period, in addition to his oil and metal art works, the artist created multiple temperas, pastels, encaustics, tabletop wooden sculptures, which, as a whole, were highly estimated by his collectors, colleagues, and art dealers. Special attention should be given to his mixed media reliefs, since (according to Sergei himself) he did apply to those reliefs the same artistic vocabulary which he applied to his metal art objects; the materials though were different (linen, wood, modeling paste, etc.) as well as the reliefs’ scales. During the 1990s Blumin enriched his artistic oeuvre by many remarkable mixed media collages, tabletop sculptures, and dozens of new oil paintings, including his unique Tonal Series. And… in the beginning of a new century the list of Sergei’s creative accomplishments was, indeed, enhanced again–by handmade books, advanced computer graphics, poetry and play writing, artistic photography and, finally, the artist’s own videos, in which his own paintings, graphics and sculptures were accompanied by his own music played by Blumin himself on different musical instruments. 
Yet, within this striking multiplicity one specific art piece requires a special remark, and that is a mixed media tabletop sculpture, Joan of Arc, which Sergei had created in 2005. Blumin’s Joan of Arc seems to play a very exclusive role in comparison with his other art projects born in the new century. First of all, it contains a rather special component—a prehistoric Mesopotamian woman’s head of six thousand years old, which, by some miracle, is able to expresses the very essence of a tragic faith of “The Maid of Orléans.” Secondly, the technique, which was applied toward this pretty complex, multifaceted artistic image, was the same technique Sergei used to apply to his miniature metal sculptures of the past. But this time the same technical method produces a totally different artistic impression, which determines a totally new phase in Sergei Blumin’s creative development.
Detailed analysis of Joan of Arc can be found in the article “Portrait of an Artist in the Context of Success, Fame and Destiny. Russian Version.” One point, though, needs to be emphasized here. On one hand, Joan of Arc demonstrates that Blumin’s metalsmith skills (in term of being able of creating a very interesting, multidimensional image) were still sophisticated and diverse. On the other hand, Joan of Arc shows that the artist was not interested in mechanical repetition of the same approach (artistic as well as technical) at another stage of his life. As was illustrated above more than once, Blumin has never interrupted his relentless search for new artistic ways in his interpretations of current realities, which was always truly instrumental to him, as a contemporary artist, and his Joan of Arc proves it perfectly. This exceptional sculpture, as unique as it is, did influence the entire series of similar sculptures, which artistic traits were new to Sergei’s vocabulary. Meanwhile, and that is important to emphasize as well, these traits contained some kind of a playful miniature component, which, by its very nature, was practically archetypal in miniature metal sculptures from Blumin’s past. These complex original traits were perfectly accentuated by American critic, Olivia Twine, who wrote an article dedicated to Sergei Blumin’s art in 2012:
Blumin’s tabletop sculptures can be moved to interact like toy soldiers or chess pieces. It’s uncanny how much individuality Blumin bestows on his conglomerated constructions. A man and woman are commedia del’arte archetypes that reappear in various circumstances. One character is of ambiguous gender and could be a man with a shovel for a head and hunting rifle in hand, or female in the style of the California-based Symbionese Liberation Army of the 1970s.
A solo male figure appears to be riding a skateboard or surfing as he leans slightly sideways, carrying implements of metal and wood. He may be tilting at windmills or offering a gift at the end of an extended pole. Appearing confident, his unmarked face atop a long neck is crowned with a jaunty beret. Like the subjects of Blumin’s paintings, the characters are charmingly engaged in life (and with each other) and replete with human desires and frailties.
Therefore, Sergei Blumin’s metalsmith skills, which had formed him as an outstanding master of unique artistic vision in the beginning of his creative journey, uninterruptedly functioned in a subtle way as an inner stimulant for his future multiple artistic inspirations. In the meantime, the series of Sergei’s miniature metal sculptures created mostly in the first half of his professional career will always represent one of the artist’s greatest artistic achievements.
In 2000 Design Museum in Zurich opened an exhibition under the title The Asenbaum Collection—Jewelry of Our Own Time. In December of that year GZ Journal published an article about the exhibition, which analyzed the role of Inge Asenbaum in the history of metalsmith collecting as follows:
Since the early Sixties, Inge Asenbaum has been acquiring polyglot and unique artistic jewelery creations as testimonies to her era. She founded the Galerie am Graben at the beginning of the Sixties and intensified her collecting. She would acquire the most impressive items for her own collection rather than leave her collecting to the unsold pieces. Within a decade she assembled a record of contemporary Austrian but also European jewelery design. American, Australian and even Japanese pieces have been added to the collection, which continued to grow even when she ceased to run a gallery. The main emphasis, however, was on jewelery of the Seventies and Eighties. Her daughter Elisabeth Asenbaum, an art jewelry designer in her own right, is now adding to the collection<…>
Following the statement presented above, the author of the article listed the names of dozens of artists, whose art works were displayed in the Inge Asenbaum gallery throughout the 1970s – 1980s. But only Sergei Blumin was defined in that list as great, “Great Russian artist.”
 See Yelena Yasen’s Artist’s Visual Biography, Part 1 on www.yelenayasen.wordpress.com, New York, 2017; also see the following videos on Sergei Blumin’s home page on YouTube: Sergei Blumin. Statement and Stylistic Demonstration in Pictures. Fifty Years of Creative Activity, 2015 and Sergei Blumin. Visual Biography, New York, 2013.
 See appropriate documentation in the Artist’s Visual Biography, Part 1; also see an English version of Yelena Yasen’s video lecture about Portrait of a Soviet Intellectual on http://www.adonispublishing.wordpress.com in the “Videos and Video Lectures” category.
 See Sergei Blumin’s video Early Watercolors and Oil Paintings, New York, 2013 on his home page on YouTube.
 Dr. Beatriz Chadour-Sampson, a leading world specialist on the jewelry of pearls, is a curator of the V&A’s Bollinger Jewellery Gallery and the author of many books on art and history of pearls.
 From Dr. Sampson’s email to Sergei Blumin of September 3, 2017 on acquisition of Inge Asenbaum collection by Ms. Deedie Potter Rose, who bought it as a gift to the Dallas Museum of Art: “To support this acquisition, the Dallas Museum of Art is running a multi-year project to research and write about the jewellery in the Asenbaum collection. The core team of researchers are Liesbeth den Besten from the Netherlands, Beatriz Chadour-Sampson from Great Britain, and Damian Skinner from New Zealand, and other experts will be contracted as required.” From Dr. Sampson email to Yelena Yasen of July 4, 2018: “The project is due to finish at the end of this year.”
 See appropriate documentation in the Artist’s Visual Biography, Part 1
 Maya Pritsker’s Interview, RTV Network, New York, October 12, 2005 – see the “Interview” section on www.sergeibumin.com; English translation of the interview is published on www.yelenayasen.wordpress.com. See a reproduction of Sergei Blumin’s Human World in Yelena Yasen’s article “Portrait of an Artist in the Context of Success, Fame and Destiny – the Artist of the 21st Century,” New York, 2012 – 2018 published on the present block in “Critique in English” category.
 Maya Pritsker, “Interview”
 See the beginning of the present text; also see: Yelena Yasen, “Portrait of an Artist in the Context of Success, Fame and Destiny. Sergei Blumin – the Artist of the 21st Century.”
 See the List of Exhibitions on www.sergeiblumin.com; also see: Exhibitions’ Invitations and Related Photographs in the Artist’s Visual biography, Part 2, www.yelenayasen.wordpress.com, New York, 2017; finally, see: JoAnn Goldberg, Bruce Metcalf/Sergei Blumin, Exhibitions Review, Ornament, Los Angeles, 1987, p. 18 & 11;
 Antonia Schwed, Excerpt from the article Second Holiday Invitational, Spring Street Enamels Gallery, New York, December 1979, Goldsmiths Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, April, 1980 (see on www.sergeiblumin.wordpress.com in the “Critique in English” category)
 Cinthia Guadra, Gold. Ornaments 15th Anniversary, Ornament, Carmel, 1992, p. 41 – 45
 See in the Artist’s Visual Biography, Part 3, www.yelenayasen.wordpress.com, New York, 2017; also see appropriate sections on Sergei Blumin’s website, appropriate posts on www.sergeibluminart.wordpress.com and appropriate videos on Sergei Blumin’s home page on YouTube, including Sergei Blumin, Tonal Oil Paintings, New York, 2013.
 See in the Artist’s Visual Biography, Parts 4 & 5, www.yelenayasen.wordpress.com, 2017 – 2018; also see multiple Sergei Blumin’s videos on YouTube and Vimeo home pages, including Sergei Blumin, Reading from the Book – The Song of Voiceless Birds. New York, 2015 (one of the artist’s handmade books, which contain his oil and graphic images in addition to his own poetry).
 Regarding evolution of Sergei Blumin’s style throughout his life-long artistic career see the following publications on www.yelenayasen.wordpress.com: Yelena Yasen, Sergei Blumin. Metal Sculptures, Watercolors, Oil Paintings (Austria, Vienna), Russian Jews in Germany and Austria, Executive Editor Dr. Mikhail Parhomovsky, Volume 16, Jerusalem, 2008, p. 419 – 432; Yelena Yasen, Sergei Blumin in the New Art International, A Compendium of Recent Works by World Contemporary Artists, Executive Editor: Jeremy Sedley, Book Art Press Publishers, Volume XI, New York, 2007 – 2008, p. 96 – 104, 168; Yelena Yasen, Sergei Blumin in America, Russian Jewry Abroad, Executive Editor Dr. Mikhail Parhomovsky, Volume 20, Book 4, Jerusalem-Toronto-Saint Petersburg, 2010, p. 178 – 199; Yelena Yasen, Portrait of an Artist of the 21st Century in the Context of Success, Fame and Destiny, New York, 2012 – 2018; Yelena Yasen, Portrait of an Artist of the 21st Century in the Context of Success, Fame and Destiny. Russian Version, New York, 2016. Also see on http://www.sergeiblumin.com, in the “Interviews” section: Victor Topaller, Interview with the artist, Sergei Blumin, television network RTVi, New York, August 18, 2013.
 Olivia Twine. Sergei Blumin: Post Dehumanist, Book Art Press, Anniversary Edition, Volume XV, New Art International, New York, 2012, p. 70 – 81 (see on http://www.sergeiblumin.wordpress.com in “Critique in English” category); also see: Sergei Blumin’s videos New Art International, New York, 2018 and Mixed Media Sculpture Installations, New York, 2013.
The Asenbaum Collection—Jewelry of Our Own Time, Exhibitions, “Asenbaum Collections,” Design Museum, Zurich, GZ Journal, December, 2000.