The Rock, 1944—48
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Edgar Kaufmann, Jr.
Peter Blume labored for years to complete The Rock, which was commissioned in 1939 by the Edgar Kaufmann family for their Frank Lloyd Wright–designed home, Fallingwater, in Bear Run, Pennsylvania. Although the complex imagery of the painting resists easy interpretation, it appears to be a parable of devastation and reconstruction, possibly reflecting the turbulence of World War II and its aftermath. A shattered red rock looms at the center of the composition, its base seemingly eroded by the activities of the workers below. Smoking ruins of a brick house to the right of the rock contrast sharply with the new construction on the left, which features architectural elements reminiscent of Fallingwater. While Wright may have intended Fallingwater to symbolize man and nature existing in harmony, The Rock also alludes to man’s destructive power.