Man Department of Suits, c. 1940
colored pencil and
graphite on notebook paper
8.5 x 11 in. (21.6 x 28 cm)
American, 20th century.
Born 1893, Pennsylvania; died 1987.
Pearl Blauvelt’s drawings, discovered by chance in her former home in Northeast Pennsylvania, date from the 1940s/’50s. It’s clear that she drew what she wanted: clothes, furniture, a big house, cars, and money. For all their naiveté, there are some astounding moves: houses are transparent — clothes and the body as well — perspective is reversed, scale highly skewed. She flattens interior walls so that all are visible at the same time, as if seen from above. This is homespun cubism with x-ray vision. Done mostly on ruled notebook paper, these drawings call to mind the image of a child at her school desk, bored by the class and letting her imagination flow.
Pearl Blauvelt’s style may appear childlike, but there is a crude sophistication to her composition and draftsmanship. Repetition of commercial items alternately gives rise to abstraction and suggests a folky Pop art sensibility. There is text in most of the drawings, and she often identifies every single object — each rug, each pair of stockings, and so on — a clear indication that she was copying images from mail order catalogs. This relates her work to the use appropriation that is common among outsider artists, not only referring to the everyday world in which she lived, but to the one she dreamed would be hers.
- Courtesy of Kerry Schuss Art, New York
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2013, Jennifer Levonian and Pearl Blauvelt, Adams and Ollman, Portland
2013, Pearl Blauvelt and Les LeVeque, Kerry Schuss, New York
2009, Pearl Blauvelt - Ele D'Artagnan, Kerry Schuss, New York
2007, Pearl Blauvelt - McDermott & McGough, curated by Bob Nickas, Kerry Schuss, New York
2005, Pearl Blauvelt: Home Sweet Home, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan (Wisconsin)
2003, Pearl Blauvelt - Drawings, KS Art, New York
Selected Group Exhibitions
2014, Half Drop, Kerry Schuss, New York
2010, The Museum of Everything, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin
2009, Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York
2008, Castle in Context, Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia
2008, Glossolalia: Languages of Drawings, Museum of Modern Art, New Yorj
2005, Art on Paper, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro (North Carolina)
2004, Colored Pencil, KS Art, New York
Museum of Everything, London
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Pennslyvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Yau, John, "A Bird's-Eye View of Heaven," Hyperallergic, May 6, 2014.
The Museum of Everything, exhibition catalogue, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli & Electa, Turin/Milan, 2010.
Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2009.
"Review," New Yorker, July 2, 2007.
Pearl Blauvelt: Home Sweet Home, exhibition catalogue, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan (Wisconsin), 2005.
Rexer, Lyle, How to Look at Outsider Art, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2004.
Corrigan, Dennis and Donna, "The Village Witch," Raw Vision, No. 39, 2003.
Johnson, Ken, "Art in Review," New York Times, January 24, 2003.
Pederson, Victoria, "A Venue for the Visionary," Art & Auction, February 2003.
"Review," New Yorker, March 10, 2003.