Being introduced to Ruth Bloch the person, the artist, and to the artist's art, is a remarkable similar experience. Bloch, the artist, is warm, friendly and speaks of love and feelings. She stands a diminutive five-foot something and has long sandy hair that, while brushed, is not completely controllable. She is somber and serious in tone but can break into a beacon of a smile when discussing her children or early memories of Israel. Her speech is enigmatic, filled with contradictions, but she is not. Ruth Bloch is a purist.
"What I consider good art is not if it shows beauty or ugly things or war or cruelty -- this is not what makes it more art than the rest. For me what makes art is pureness. If an artist can deliver something pure from the inner you -- the less stages you have from the inner you to the art, the better."
Ruth Bloch was born in Israel in 1951. Her father, a musician, and her mother, an artist, both escaped the Holocaust in Europe. Ruth grew up in a kibbutz where the community cared for the children and everyone worked to survive and build the very young nation. She lost her mother giving birth to her brother when Ruth was only nine years old.
"She was an artist and left all her tools. I picked them up and I know that sounds symbolic but I felt I had to take care of my brother, my father and the art."
Reaching adulthood Ruth attended the Avni Institute of Art in Tel Aviv as an avid painter. When she showed her professors what she had already accomplished as a sculptor they encouraged her not to take courses from them. They, and she, felt that Ruth had already developed her own style and that she should go her own way.
As Bloch began raising her own children she felt that the life on a kibbutz was too restrictive for them and her artistic development. She, the children and her husband, who is an expert agriculturist, left for the desert to grow produce for sale to Europe and America. This seclusion also gave Ruth the time she needed to develop her sculpture. But the time spent in the desert sun gave Ruth cancer and sent her to Tel Aviv for two years of medical treatments.
Ruth is very philosophical about this period and describes it as a blessing. Back in the city she was discovered by galleries and museums and her reputation as a major talent was born. For the last ten years that talent and immense hard work has taken her and her sculptures to nearly every point around the world. While she belongs to The International Women’s Political Caucus and believes strongly in women’s rights she has never felt discriminated against. The artist is aware that she is often the only woman artist in a particular exhibition and is always the only female sculptor.
"I never considered myself a minority because I feel I can do anything. This never stopped me. I never felt less fortunate. People notice that I accomplish. Most sculptors are men. When I’m in the foundry, I give them orders. I tell them what to do and they do it and we work very well together even though they are all men."
Having accomplished many intimate and large-scale works in bronze ("I like big works, even though I’m so small") using the traditional lost wax method, Ruth has now turned her attention to a combining, a synthesis of bronze and glass. In this process Bloch does two surprising and unusual things: she casts unique, one of a kind works, from a mold and she does each step herself. When a sculptor creates a mold it is traditionally to cast an edition and when a sculptor becomes as successful as Ruth Bloch, it is customary to oversee or even be absent when the artisan’s work is done. From the clay of the figures and the carving directly in wax of the tree branches to the blowtorch utilized to create the patinas; it is all Ruth Bloch.
"I have to be in the foundry all the time. I weld the trees myself. I do everything at each stage. I create the mold for the glass, different from one to another. I use colors that belong to the glass world and to the ceramic world. It’s always an adventure. I wait for miracles in the kiln! They all surprise me. I now have a new glass and I go to create a new bronze for that unique glass. I challenge myself. I dream the trees during the night. When I look out at nature I don’t see nature anymore. I see my trees with the glass, the colors, the coolness -- I grow with each piece."
Bloch’s growth is far easier to trace than her influences. Sculpture itself has laconically lagged behind all other post war media. Ruth has had little interest in either the literal sculptures as afforded by Duane Hanson or a return to romanticism championed by Frederick Hart. Although Block desires to stay as close as possible to her feelings she does not confuse emotionalism with naïve technique as did Bernard Meadows or Kenneth Armitage. As a figurative sculptor, Bloch most closely relates to Henry Moore for his fluidity of line and his genius for making the massive delicate. Bloch’s Fatherhood sculpture, which blends the human forms in an eternal circle, echoes Moore’s ability to realize the full potential of the sculptural form. In its scale and weight Bloch’s Family is reminiscent of Moore’s Northhampton Madonna (9143/4). However, Bloch moved one step beyond Moore by allowing no separation between man, woman and child. For Bloch these figures are one; locked in an unending circle of life. Bloch also acknowledges Alberto Giacometti’s influence. Bloch’s stylized elongated figures and her highly textured patinas mark a direct path to the master Giacometti.
Bloch mirrors Giacometti’s attitude about his art. Giacometti was a celebrated Surrealist with works such as Woman with Her Throat Cut (1932), but when he returned to the model and dedicated himself to the figure he lost favor with the surrealists and effectively didn’t exhibit again until 1948. Ruth Bloch risks dismissal by crossing the age-old intellectual taboo of combining form and function; arts and craft. One cannot overemphasize how little Ruth cares about this risk. She finds great joy in creating the work and marvels at the public’s voracious response.
There is something sublime about the serious artist creating usable art. Viewing Bloch’s colorful bowls atop bronze trees with magical figures reading books or lifting a child to the heavens, the spirit of Picasso at Vallauris is not too distant a memory. The often dark Picasso was at his most whimsical and often poignant working his ceramics, creating images of doves, fish and owls on bowls, plates and wine decanters.
Bloch began functional works with a series of bronze bowls and coffee tables. Now that she has expanded her visual vocabulary with unique glassworks, the possibilities of expanding this fusion seem limitless to Bloch. Each correspondence from the foundry and each crate that arrives at the gallery fulfill the promise of Bloch; that she is growing with each work.
Whether in bronze or the combining of bronze with glass, Bloch’s work offers a peaceful and pure way of seeing. Somehow seeing her feelings aids the viewer in experiencing their own. From the intimacy of Time Out to be Within to the grace and grandeur of Family, Bloch captures the experience of pure joy. Her imagery does not confound but affords comfort in contemplation and the warm embrace of loved ones.
1990-2006 ArtExpo NY
1995 Art Miami, FL, Art Expo Miami, FL
1996 Art Miami, FL
1997 Art Palm Beach, FL, Art 21 Las Vegas, NV
Sofa, Chicago, IL
Art America, Miami, FL
Art Expo, CA
1998 Art Palm Beach, FL
Art Vancouver, Canada
Art Expo, Los Angeles, CA
Sofa, Chicago, IL
1999 Art 21, Las Vegas, NV
2000 ArtExpo, Miami, FL; Art 21, Las Vegas, NV; Sofa, Chicago, IL;
ArtExpo, Los Angeles, CA;
2001 Sofa, Chicago, IL; Art Expo, CA; Art Palm Springs, CA
2002 Art Miami, FL; Art Palm Springs, CA; Contemporary Art Fair, Hong Kong, China
2003 Art Miami, FL; Art Palm Springs, CA; Sofa Chicago; Palm Beach Contemporary
Art, FL; Europe Art, Geneva; Art Show, London; Palm Beach Antique Show, FL.
2004 Art Miami, FL; Art Palm Springs, CA; Sofa Chicago; Palm Beach Contemporary
Art, FL; Art Shanghai, China; Art and Design, NY; Palm Beach Antique Show, FL.
2005 Art Miami, FL; Art Palm Springs, CA; Sofa Chicago; Palm Beach 3, FL; Art Show
London; Art Shanghai, China; Art and Design, NY; Palm Beach Antique Show, FL.
2006 Art Miami, FL; Sofa, NY; Palm Beach Antique Show, FL; Art Show London;
Art Shanghai, China; Art Toronto, Canada.
1995 Gallerie Michele, Alexandria, VA
1996 Carib Art Gallery, Soho, NY
1997 Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998 Sai Gallery, Soho, NY
1999 Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Post Gallery, Houston, TX
Atlas Galleries, Chicago, IL
2000 Arta Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel; Galerie Vivendi, Paris, France
2001 Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Atlas Galleries, Chjcago, IL
2002 Galerie Vivendi, Paris, France
2003 Galerie Vivendi, Paris, France
1999 Cornell Museum, Delray, FL
2000 Skirball Museum, Los Angeles, CA
1994 Atlas, Chicago, IL 2000 Atlas, Chicago, IL
Arta, Jerusalem, Israel Weinstein, San Francisco, CA
1995 Atlas, Chicago, IL Arta, Jerusalem, Israel
Arta, Jerusalem, Israel Gallerie Michele, Alexandria, VA
Fine Art, Eilat, Israel Art International, Asheville, NC
Gallerie Michele, Alexandria, VA Moriah Betheseda, MD
1996 Atlas, Chicago, IL West End, West Palm Beach, FL
Arta, Jerusalem, Israel Post, Houston, TX
Fine Art, Eilat, Israel Markman, Las Vegas, NV
Weinstein, San Francisco, CA Vivendi Paris, France
Gallerie Michele, Alexandria, VA Creekside, Park City, Utah
1997 Atlas, Chicago, IL Houshang, Santa Fe, NM
Weinstein, San Francisco, CA Soho, Los Angeles, CA
Arta, Jerusalem, Israel 2001 Atlas, Chicago, IL
Fine Art, Eilat, Israel Weinstein, San Francisco, CA
Gallerie Michele, Alexandria, VA Arta, Jerusalem, Israel
Art International, Asheville, NC Gallerie Michele, Alexandria, VA
Moriah, Betheseda, MD Art International, Asheville, NC
Sul Generis, Vancouver, Canada Moriah, Betheseda, MD
1998 Atlas, Chicago, IL West End, West Palm Beach, FL
Weinstein, San Francisco, Ca Post, Houston, TX
Arta, Jerusalem, Israel Markman, Las Vegas, NV
Gallerie Michele, Alexandria, VA Vivendi, Paris, France
Art International, Asheville, NC Creekside, Park City, Utah
Moriah, Betheseda, MD Houshang, Santa Fe, Nm
Sai, Soho, NY Soho, Los Angeles, CA
West End, West Palm Beach, FL Kona Kai, Key Largo, FL
1999 Atlas, Chicago, IL 2002 Atlas, Chicago, IL
Weinstein, San Francisco, CA Weinstein, San Francisco, CA
Arta, Jerusalem, Israel Gallerie Michele, Alexandria, VA
Gallerie Michele, Alexandria, VA Art International, Asheville, NC
Art International,, Asheville, NC Moriah Betheseda, MD
Moriah, Betheseda, MD Post, Houston, TX
Sai, Soho, NY Markman Las Vegas, NV
West End West Palm Beach, FL Vivendi Paris, France
Post Houston, TX Creekside Park City, Utah
Markman Las Vegas, NV Houshang Santa Fe, NM
Vivendi Paris, France Soho Los Angeles, CA
Creekside Park City, Utah Kona Kai Key Largo, FL
Houshang Santa Fe, NM Studio E Gallery Palm Beach Gardens,Fl.
On Permanent Gallery Exhibitions:
Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Atlas Galleries,Chicago, IL
Arta Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel
Tribas Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
Galerie Vivendi, Paris, France
Galerie Castiglione, Barbizon, France
Dharma Studio, Coconut Grove, FL
Studio E Gallery, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Galerie Dauphin, Singapore
Cafmeyer Gallery Knokke, Heist, Belgium
Galerie Du Soleil, Naples, FL
Lanoue Fine Art, Boston, MA
Creekside Gallery, Park City, UT