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Lucienne Bloch

(1909—1999)


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(1909–99).

Muralist, painter, printmaker, sculptor, and photographer. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, the daughter of composer Ernest Bloch, in 1917 she moved with her family to the United States. After the academic year 1924–25 at the Cleveland School (now Institute) of Art, she studied in Paris until 1929 at the École des Beaux Arts and in the studios of painter André Lhote and sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. She also worked in the Netherlands for a year, mastering the technique of glass sculpture. When she moved to New York in 1931, she anticipated a career as a sculptor. The intended course of her life's work changed while she assisted Mexican muralist Diego Rivera between 1932 and 1934 in Detroit and New York. In a small but significant contribution to art history, in May 1933 Bloch made the only photographs of Rivera's controversial Rockefeller Center fresco, Man at the Crossroads. The day before it was to be sealed off, and subsequently destroyed because it included a portrait of Lenin, Bloch surreptitiously recorded the work. In 1934 she embarked on an independent career as a muralist, eventually completing dozens of designs across the country, many sponsored by federal art projects. Although some incorporate semi-abstract elements, others reflect her belief in the social responsibility of the artist. Although only Childhood (1935, now demolished) was ever finished, this portion of the projected “Cycle of a Woman's Life” for New York City's women's detention center remains among her best-known designs. This appealing depiction of women and children in a park presented a positive, accessible image intended to inspire inmates to improve their lives. Also a freelance photojournalist, Bloch was known as well for children's book illustrations. In 1936 she married Stephen Dimitroff, Rivera's chief technician, with whom she collaborated for forty years on numerous mural projects. They lived in Flint, Michigan, during World War II and moved to Mill Valley, California, in 1948. They relocated in 1965 to the Pacific coast town of Gualala, where she died.

Subjects: Art.


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