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Norman Bluhm

NORMAN BLUHM WAS AN EXTREME example of the many Americans, mostly World War II veterans, who went to Italy and France after the war to learn about art history and in doing so simultaneously taught the typically despairing and poverty-stricken European artist something about American energy, expansiveness, and optimism. Like Sam Francis and Joan Mitchell, Bluhm was one of the most powerful so-called second-generation Abstract Expressionists (more accurately second-decade) and, also like them, among the few who remained consistently faithful to this aesthetic.

After four years as a bomber pilot—a visual and psychological experience that had a lasting effect on the artist and his work—Bluhm returned briefly in 1945 to Chicago, his birthplace, to resume studies with Mies van der Rohe. Seeking greater artistic freedom, he left the same year to enroll at the Academie de Belle Arte in

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