Cityscape, April, 1911
Oil on canvas
31¼ x 39 inches
Signed lower right, signed again and dated on reverse
Bloch’s early art training in St. Louis gave no indication that he would one day become a member of one of the most progressive art groups of twentieth century European modernism, yet he was the only American invited to join the avant-garde German Expressionist group the Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter). Bloch moved to Europe in 1909, where he was introduced to the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Odilon Redon. It was exposure to the work of Wassily Kandinsky, however, that most profoundly changed Bloch’s aesthetic viewpoint.
Kandinsky, along with Franz Marc, had formed The Blue Rider, a name that grew out of a mutual love the two artists had for the color blue and for horses. In 1911 they invited Bloch to participate in the group’s first exhibition as well as the group’s show the following year. The artists shared an affinity for the Fauve manner of painting, employing color as a powerful emotive force. Bloch continued to produce representational work even though Kandinsky championed nonobjective painting. Always his own worst critic, Bloch destroyed many of the paintings that he believed failed to measure up to his standards. Many works from this early period were lost in World War II, making Cityscape an especially prized painting.