When one thinks of “modern art” one might not immediately think of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. Yet, the via pulchritudinis, like every road to heaven, is filled with surprise and intrigue.
This year, Thomas More College Board member, the Honorable Scott Bloch, has successfully released a film about the enigmatic poet and painter, Albert Bloch, his grandfather.
The documentary, entitled “AB” (after Albert Bloch’s initials), introduces and follows the career of an artist relatively unknown to most.
Albert Bloch was the only American who participated in the German Expressionist art movement known as Der Blaue Reiter, “The Blue Rider.” This early 20th-century movement includes artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Paul Klee, and Gabriele Münter. The movement is credited with establishing the norms and traditions of modern art as we know it.
Originally from St. Louis, Mo., Albert Bloch spent thirteen years in Europe before he returned home to America to join Kansas University’s art faculty, where he lived a quiet life. In contrast, many of the other artists involved in the movement went on to have showy public lives and highly discussed painting careers. In making the documentary, Scott Bloch in part sought to answer the question, “What motivated Albert Bloch?” In pursuing the answer, Bloch reveals that we do not always understand the inner workings of creativity and we make false assumptions when we assume that we know the character of a modern artist.
The documentary includes interviews with art historian Rose-Carol Washton Long, a scholar of Der Blaue Reiter movement, David Raskin, a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Randall Griffey, curator of modern art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The film takes a close look at Albert Bloch’s art, writing, photographs, and home movies on Super 8 film.
Trustee Scott Bloch says that “Thomas More College is dedicated to the study of great art and works of literature. It upholds something that is fast disappearing in our world. Many have lost a belief in the possibility of living a serious life. Albert Bloch was self-educated, but he too read great books and knew several languages, wrote poetry, and translated famous German poets and the Viennese poet and satirist Karl Kraus. I have some of those books of his with interlineations in his hand. He opened up to me an entire world of beauty and truth as a young man. His life is a testament to the real possibility of a life lived in pursuit of beauty, truth, and goodness apart from the pursuits of money or fame. This film was in part to honor the greatness of art and of the man who passed on to me and many others what is best in Western culture.”
Albert Bloch often suffused his artistic vision with Christian themes and is certainly worth getting to know. The film is made available for purchase at https://albertblochfilm.com