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Barbara Haskell

(b Sand Bank [now Altmar], NY, March 7, 1885; d New York, Jan 3, 1965).

American painter and printmaker. Avery spent his childhood in Hartford, CT, where he remained until 1925, attending art school from 1911 to 1919 and thereafter painting in the surrounding countryside. His works from this period are characterized by shiny, enamel-like surfaces, created by applying colours with brushes and a palette knife and blending them with his fingers. After marrying and moving to New York in 1925, he replaced the light-drenched palette of his Hartford paintings with sombre tones. He also stopped using an impastoed, palette-knife technique and began to brush pigment on his canvases in thin layers. His figurative and genre subjects resembled those of the realists, but his technique of dispensing with illusionistically modelled shapes in favour of simplified forms and flat colours derived from European artists such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso (e.g. Harbour at Night, 1932; Washington, DC, Phillips Col. and The Steeplechase, Coney Island, 1929...

Article

Anna Moszynska

(b San Mateo, CA, June 25, 1923; d Santa Monica, CA, Nov 4, 1994).

American painter and printmaker. Following an accident leading to spinal tuberculosis while serving in the US Army Air Corps, Francis started to paint for distraction in 1944, studying privately under David Park in 1947. He subsequently relinquished his earlier medical studies in favor of painting, completing his BA (1949) and MA (1950) at the University of California at Berkeley. During this period he experimented with different styles of painting, notably Surrealism and the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and particularly Clyfford Still. His own style emerged in 1949–50; in Opposites (1950; Tokyo, Idemitsu Mus. A.), for example, dripping, corpuscular shapes painted in fluid red circulate freely around the canvas, indicating what was to become a perennial concern with “ceaseless instability.” With its sensitivity to sensuous color and light, Francis’s work was already showing very different concerns from the expressive iconography and energy of many of the Abstract Expressionists....

Article

Christopher Brookeman

(b New York, Dec 12, 1928; d Darien, CT, Dec 27, 2011).

American painter and printmaker. Frankenthaler studied with Rufino Tamayo while at Dalton School, New York, with Paul Feeley (1910–66) at Bennington College, VT (1946–9), and privately with Wallace Harrison in 1949 and Hans Hofmann in 1950. In that year she met Clement Greenberg, David Smith, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning and others. Like several of the exponents of Abstract Expressionism she was concerned with the forms and energies latent in nature. In the mythology of technical breakthrough that was part of the culture of the New York School, her work Mountains and Sea (1952; artist’s col.) has an established place. Extending Pollock’s method of painting on unprimed canvases on the floor, she allowed thinner pigments to soak directly into the canvas. This created a closer relationship between image and surface, the weave of the raw canvas being visible within the painted image. At the same time the visibility of the canvas beneath the painted surface negated the sense of illusion and depth. It was a device that called attention to both the material and the nature of the medium. The technique also generated a new range of liquid-like atmospheric effects reminiscent of the watercolours of John Marin. Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, the leading figures of a group sometimes known as the ...

Article

French, 20th century, male.

Painter.

Sébastien de Ganay first exhibited in Paris in a solo exhibition at the Galerie Jacqueline Moussion.

His work is suggestive of Abstract Expressionism but is based on an original process. He covers the stretcher with sheets of plastic film containing paint and waits for several weeks for the colour to set....

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1946.

Painter, draughtsman, engraver.

John Himmelfarb is an architecture graduate from Harvard University. He is an exponent of Abstract Expressionism whose development of line has been described as 'dramatic'. His often calligraphic drawings and paintings spring from jazz rhythms or an allusive imagery. Himmelfarb is best known for the gigantism of his 'works in progress' executed in full view of the public, much in the way of a performance. He has benefited from grants from the National Education Association and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. He has shown his works in solo exhibitions mostly in the Midwest but also at the University of Connecticut, Fairfield, and at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Christchurch, New Zealand....

Article

Whitney Chadwick

(b Balagne, Jan 4, 1896; d Paris, Oct 28, 1987).

French painter, draughtsman, printmaker, and stage designer. His work played an important role in the development of both Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, although his independence, iconoclasm, and abrupt stylistic transitions make him difficult to classify. Masson was admitted to the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts et l’Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Brussels at the age of 11. Through his teacher Constant Montald, he met the Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren (1855–1916), who persuaded Masson’s parents to send him to Paris for further training. Masson joined the French infantry in 1915 and fought in the battles of the Somme; he was gravely wounded, and his wartime experiences engendered in him a profound philosophy about human destiny and stimulated his search for a personal imagery of generation, eclosion, and metamorphosis.

Masson’s early works, particularly the paintings of 1922 and 1923 on a forest theme (e.g. Forest, 1923; see Leiris and Limbour, p. 93), reflected the influence of André Derain, but by late ...

Article

Robert Saltonstall Mattison

(b Aberdeen, WA, Jan 24, 1915; d Princetown, MA, July 16, 1991).

American painter, printmaker, and editor. A major figure of the Abstract Expressionist generation (see Abstract Expressionism), in his mature work he encompassed both the expressive brushwork of action painting and the breadth of scale and saturated hues of colour field painting, often with a marked emphasis on European traditions of abstraction.

Motherwell was sent to school in the dry climate of central California to combat severe asthmatic attacks and developed a love for the broad spaces and bright colours that later emerged as essential characteristics of his abstract paintings. His later concern with themes of mortality can likewise be traced to his frail health as a child. From 1932 he studied literature, psychology, and philosophy at Stanford University, CA, and encountered in the poetry of the French Symbolists an expression of moods that dispensed with traditional narrative. He paid tribute to these writers in later paintings such as ...

Article

Swiss, 20th century, male.

Born 1929, in Basel.

Painter, engraver.

Bruno Muller studied for a year with Pierre Francastel at the École des Hautes Études in Paris. He evolved an Expressionist style which took on a progressively Abstract Expressionist flavour, with large, violently coloured, concise forms which bring to mind not the content but the sculptural vocabulary of Pouget or Cristoforou. He produced single designs....

Article

Jure Mikuž

(b Velika Pisanica, nr Bjelovar, May 4, 1921; d Zagreb, Jan 2, 2005).

Croatian painter, printmaker, stage designer, graphic designer and illustrator. Before World War II he studied at the Zagreb Academy. In 1943 he joined the partisan forces where he founded, together with another painter Zlatko Prica (1916–2002), an engraver’s printshop and edited a portfolio of prints in illustration of the epic poem Pit by I. G. Kovačić. In 1951 he abandoned his Post-Impressionist style of painting Adriatic landscapes after a stay in the USA and Canada. In 1953 he exhibited in Belgrade and Zagreb the cycle Experience of America (1950–51), which contained about 30 paintings and was greatly criticized. These pictures (now Zagreb, Gal. Mod. A. and Mun. A. G.; Belgrade, Min. Foreign Affairs; priv. cols) conveyed impressions of American megalopoles such as Pittsburgh and New York in the manner of American Abstract Expressionism. Mimetic elements began to disappear from his work, and by the late 1950s Murtić developed his own dramatic brushwork. Around ...

Article

David Anfam

(b New York, Jan 29, 1905; d New York, July 4, 1970).

American painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer. He was a major exponent of Abstract Expressionism whose reductive idiom employing large chromatic expanses exerted a considerable impact on abstract art after World War II. His writings and pronouncements also contributed to the accompanying theoretical debates during and after the 1960s about meaning in non-figurative expression.

After studies at the Art Students League, New York, in 1922 and 1929 Newman destroyed most of his basically realistic initial output and stopped painting by about 1939–40. He explained that the world historical crisis then had rendered traditional subject-matter and styles invalid, necessitating the search for a new, awe-inspiring content appropriate to the moment. A series of essays and catalogue introductions throughout the 1940s reiterated this aesthetic quest. Their polemical stance focused upon the need for a break with outworn European traditions (including such native continuations as American Scene painting), chaos as a wellspring of human creativity, and the irrelevance of beauty in times of terror. Instead, he resurrected the venerable concept of the Sublime for a metaphysical ‘art which through symbols will catch the basic truth of life which is its sense of tragedy’ (‘The Plasmic Image’, unpublished essay, ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 28 January 1912, in Cody, Wyoming; died 11 August 1956, in Southampton, New York.

Painter, printmaker (etchings, screenprints).

Abstract Expressionism, Action Painting.

School of New York.

Jackson Pollock was born in Wyoming and spent his childhood in California, then in Arizona. He began to study painting and sculpture from 1925 at the Manual Art School of Los Angeles, where he was expelled after two years. He went to New York City in 1930 to study at the Art Students League. He was the pupil of Thomas Hart Benton who, even though he became a friend, never exercised much lasting influence on him. Pollock worked on murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1943. In 1936, he attended the experimental workshop of David Alfaro Siqueiros in Union Square. After his marriage to Lee Krasner, a pupil of Hans Hofmann, in 1944, he settled in Long Island....

Article

Deborah Nash

(b Königsberg, 1916; d Berlin, 1999).

German painter, printmaker and teacher. After national service he began a course in medicine, but in 1941 took up a place at a private art school in Munich. During World War II his studies were interrupted, and in 1943 he went underground. Between 1946 and 1950 he resumed his artistic training, this time at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich, under the German painter Carl Caspar (1879–1956). In 1950–52 he travelled to the Netherlands and then to Paris, where he studied under Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17. He began to move away from expressive portraiture to abstract pictures and his studies with Hayter encouraged him to experiment with etchings, litho and screen printing and to employ a mixed technique rather than limit himself to pure oil painting. In 1954 he became a member of Deutscher Künstlerbund in Berlin, and in 1959 took up a post as professor of painting and drawing at the Hochschule für Bildenden Künste in Berlin. It was here that he established his reputation as the foremost German exponent of ...

Article

(b Riga, July 15, 1900; d New York, Dec 24, 1983).

American painter and printmaker of Latvian birth. He enrolled in art school in Petrograd (now St Petersburg) and then travelled through Russia. Early influences were Vasily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich. He left the country after the Revolution (1917). During the 1920s he lived variously in Europe and Latin America, establishing contact with such leading artists as Emil Nolde, Karl-Georg Heise (1890–1979), and Diego Rivera. Yunkers fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936–9) and moved to Stockholm from 1939 to 1947, where he edited and published the periodicals Creation, Ars, and Art Portfolio (1969 exh. cat., pp. 30–31). In 1947 ten years’ work was lost in a studio fire.

Yunkers immigrated to the USA in 1947, acquiring citizenship in 1953. At this time he embarked on ambitious projects of prints and paintings including Polyptych, a five-panel woodcut, 4 m long, and in 1957 a series of large-scale pastels culminating in ...