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"Fritz Bultman: An American Abstractionist" on view at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum
Fritz Bultman, Gravity at Nightfall, 1961. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Estate of Fritz Bultman/Edelman Arts.

BATON ROUGE, LA.- The Louisiana Art & Science Museum opened the Fritz Bultman: An American Abstractionist exhibition Saturday, October 19. Fritz Bultman (1919-1985), an artist from Louisiana, was among the circle of artists that invented Abstract Expressionism between 1945 and 1952, the first American visual art to gain international prominence.

The exhibition – organized by LASM – offers a fresh take on Bultman’s contribution to the history of art and the development of his artistic style by providing a glimpse into some of his major influences, relationships, and the role he played in pivotal events of the day. A versatile artist in more than one medium, the exhibition includes nearly 50 works, among them paintings, sculpture, drawings, stained glass, and collage, many of which have rarely been exhibited.

Bultman was born into a well-established New Orleans family in 1919. After a brief stint at the New Bauhaus school in Chicago, he studied from 1938 until 1941 in New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts, under the legendary artist and teacher Hans Hofmann. Through Hofmann, he met a number of like-minded artists who also were searching to create a new manner of art-making, one better suited to the uneasy cultural and political climate of the post-war era.

Bultman was held in high esteem by fellow artists, curators, and critics, and his work is featured in lofty museum collections, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Yet his career did not rise to the same heights as some of his now-legendary peers, among them Jackson Pollock. As Abstract Expressionism was gaining widespread attention, Bultman opted to study sculpture in Italy and was unavailable for the now famous Life Magazine photograph featuring the “Who’s Who” of the Abstract Expressionists.

Bultman’s artwork has withstood the test of time, and his reputation as an important American artist has grown steadily in respect and attention. In his later years, Bultman taught art, most notably at Pratt Institute and Hunter College in New York. Bultman remained an advocate of Provincetown all his life, helping to found the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and Long Point Gallery. After a lengthy illness, he died there at age 66 in 1985, leaving behind a strong and lasting legacy.

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