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.
- Peter Blume
- The Rock
- United States
- Oil on canvas
- Signed Lower left: Peter Blume, 1948
- 146.4 × 188.9 cm (57 5/8 × 74 3/8 in.)
- Gift of Edgar Kaufmann, Jr.