Julius Bloch, City Dweller
Julius Bloch was dedicated to creating images of urban life. An advocate for the equality of races, he often depicted African American figures in the modern city. Here, Bloch portrays a young man against a background of rectangular forms. Having recently traveled to Ravenna, Italy, the artist was inspired by the powerful stylization of the figures in early Byzantine mosaics he saw there. The sitter’s elegant, elongated neck and enlarged, wide-spaced eyes recall Empress Theodora and Her Attendants, made in about 547, at the Basilica of San Vitale.
Bloch enjoyed a successful career, showing his work nationally and internationally. He also exhibited regularly at the Pyramid Club, a social and cultural club for African American professionals in Philadelphia. The club held annual invitational exhibitions, open to both black and white artists.