About the Film

On a quiet fall afternoon in 1984, seventy-year-old Anna Bloch arrives at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, her tiny Subaru Outback crammed with stacks of battered, rolled and discolored canvases. She hoped someone at the Nelson Museum could help restore the art of her late husband, the painter and poet Albert Bloch. Beneath layers of dirt and decaying varnish emerged the vibrant, stunning images of dancing pierrots, one of several significant works from the revolutionary exhibit of 1911 Der Blaue Reider (The Blue Rider) in Munich. Until that day, Albert Bloch was virtually invisible to the modern art community. This single event soon cascaded into a series of private and international exhibitions, ultimately re-writing the known history of modernism. The artist Albert Bloch had been a friend of and collaborator with Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Paul Klee, and Marc Chagall. Together they jolted the art world with unheralded appeals to the spiritual and human in art.

Today dissention still erupts with scholars and art historians over exactly where to place Albert Bloch in the pantheon of artists who shaped the twentieth century. Should the history books be written to include Bloch? Would Albert Bloch himself have wanted it?

Bloch had been on the cusp of international fame, achieving the kind of celebrity for which most artists would sell their souls. He was, literally, one of the fathers of Expressionism. For reasons that even now remain mysterious, Bloch walked away from it all, without ever looking back. He voluntarily lived the remainder of his life in near total obscurity. “AB” is the story of a singular artist, a unique individual, who used his unusual life as an inspiration for his artistic statements. Bloch’s life is a compelling, colorful and thought-provoking journey. “AB” is a documentary that provides a stirring profile of the artist through his own words and poetry, interviews with Bloch’s students, his widow, his admirers and his critics in the art world.

To examine Bloch’s life is to confront the art establishment that determines the standards for greatness in art. Even the gatekeepers of the art world are not sure how to place Bloch. He defies easy description as an artist, and as a man. Through Bloch’s extensive writings and arresting poetry, we glimpse the inner workings of a mind that upheld the principles of the Blaue Reider as his highest ambition, and considered human spiritual exploration as the artist’s most meaningful pursuit.