Arnold Blanch

Theme/Style – Figurative, Modernism, Surrealism, Abstraction, portraits, landscapes, genre scenes

Media – Oils, tempera, gouache, etchings, lithographs, murals, fresco, mosaic

Artistic Focus – The Los Angeles Times critic Henry J. Seldis wrote of Arnold Blanch: “a refreshing selection of his works now on view reminds us that he was an artist of considerable talents and charms….  at his best in his freely conceived semiabstractions of landscapes… and the female figure.”  Blanch was nothing if not versatile, skillfully rendering an etching of a genre scene as powerfully as his handsome figurative works, portraits and still lifes.  His subtle use of surrealist techniques was one of his hallmarks, giving his paintings both a liveliness and mystery.

Career Highlights –

• Born in Mantorville, Minnesota in 1896, Blanch attended the Minneapolis School of Art, where he met his first wife, painter Lucile (Lundquist) Blanch.
• Blanch drew maps for the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. After the war, he and Lucile moved to New York City and enrolled at the Art Students League, studying with John Sloan, Robert Henri, Kenneth Hayes Miller and Boardman Robinson.
• By 1923 the Blanches had settled in the art colony at Woodstock, NY, and Blanch’s first one-man exhibition was held in New York City in 1926.
• During the next decade Blanch exhibited often with New York’s Dudensing Galleries (aka Valentine Dudensing or Valentine Gallery), one of the top Manhattan galleries of its day showing works by Matisse, Bonnard, Braque, Derain, and Picasso (whose “Guernica” had its first U.S. showing there). In 1927, Blanch’s work was included in the show inaugurating Dudensing’s new contemporary exhibition space; and also in the gallery’s 1930 show, “40 American Artists.”
• Between 1930 and 1932 Blanch was a visiting teacher at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and won the Anne Bremer Memorial first prize in the annual exhibition of the San Francisco Art Association in 1931. During the 1930s Blanch also taught at the Art Students League of New York and the Broadmoor Art Academy in Colorado Springs.
• In 1932 Blanch joined the roster of New York’s Frank K.M. Rehn Galleries, and one of his artworks was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art that same year. His work is also in the collections of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art, among many other institutions.
• During the 1930s Blanch worked for the Treasury Department’s Section of Fine Arts, painting murals for post offices in Fredonia, NY, Norwalk, CT, and Columbus, WI; and in 1939 his work was included in the WPA/Federal Art Project exhibition “Frontiers of American Art” at the de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco.
• In 1936 Blanch served on the executive committee of New York’s League of American Artists, a group formed to defend artists’ rights and work with other groups against war and fascism.
• In 1937 Blanch was included in a Los Angeles Museum show of the Sawkill group of Woodstock painters, and exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco in 1939. He also took third prize at the Carnegie International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting in Pittsburgh in 1938. Blanch married fellow artist Doris Lee in 1939.
• In 1947 Blanch designed a two-story fabric piece to hang at the entrance of the new Associated American Artists Galleries of California, which opened that year in Beverly Hills. He exhibited at the San Francisco’s California Palace of the Legion of Honor in 1948, and served on the jury for the 1957 exhibition “Artists of Los Angeles and Vicinity” at the L.A. County Museum. In 1962 New York’s Krasner Gallery held a 40-year retrospective of Blanch’s work.
• Blanch passed away while traveling to New York City from his home in Woodstock in 1968. Soon afterwards two shows of his paintings and drawings took place at the Heritage Gallery in Los Angeles, in 1971 and 1973.