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The Rock

Painting of figures construction project amid smoky destruction, middle is pink crater.

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  • Painting of figures construction project amid smoky destruction, middle is pink crater.




Peter Blume
American, born Russia (now Belarus), 1906–1992

About this artwork

When it was exhibited at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh in 1950, The Rock was voted the show’s most popular painting. Peter Blume’s dramatic image of a shattered but enduring rock must have struck a responsive chord with many post–World War II viewers. Displaying a startling juxtaposition of images, the work evokes Surrealist dreamscapes made even more vivid by meticulous brushwork inspired by fifteenth- and sixteenth-century northern European painting. Although Blume’s imagery resists easy interpretation, the work suggests a parable of destruction and reconstruction. The jagged rock looms at the center of the composition, still upright despite the removal of its base by workers below. On the right, smoke billows around the charred timbers of a house, an image that might allude to the bombing of London during World War II. On the left, a new building, encased in scaffolding, rises as laborers in the foreground cart slabs of stone toward it. The new structure recalls Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater (1935–37) in southwestern Pennsylvania, the residence for which Liliane and Edgar Kaufmann commissioned the painting. Their son Edgar Kaufmann Jr. donated The Rock to the Art Institute in 1956.


On View, Gallery 262


Arts of the Americas


Peter Blume


The Rock


United States


c. 1944–1948


Oil on canvas


Signed Lower left: Peter Blume, 1948


146.4 × 188.9 cm (57 5/8 × 74 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Edgar Kaufmann Jr.

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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