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David M. Sokol

(b Rye, NY, July 14, 1920; d New York, July 13, 1978).

American writer and art critic. After graduating from Yale University, New Haven, CT, and starting a career as a writer, he worked as an associate editor of ARTnews (1946–50). He also acted as a managing editor from 1950 to 1965 and as an executive editor from 1965 to 1972. From 1972 until his death he was art critic of the newly founded New York Magazine, also writing freelance for other magazines and journals, including Saturday Review, Encounter, New York Times and Museum Journal.

Hess served as a major critic and tastemaker, with particular interest in and impact on the acceptance of Abstract Expressionism; he wrote books and catalogues for MOMA, New York. He was a major supporter of Willem de Kooning, the subject of his first monograph and of a major exhibition organized by Hess at MOMA in 1968. Hess was also active in several arts organizations and was president of the Longview Foundation in Longview, Texas....

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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

Ken Carpenter

(b Brooklyn, NY, Feb 2, 1906; d The Springs, NY, July 11, 1978).

American critic, writer, and teacher. He studied at City College, New York (1923–4), and at Brooklyn Law School (1927). Among his many administrative posts was that of Art Editor for the Works Progress Administration’s American Guide (1938–42). His first book was a collection of poems, Trance above the Streets (New York, 1942). In the late 1940s he began writing on art for such publications as Partisan Review and in the early 1950s for ARTnews.

Rosenberg is most widely known for his vigorous support of the Abstract Expressionists, and particularly for his contentious concept of Action painting, presented in a series of articles beginning with ‘The American Action Painters’ in the December 1952 issue of ARTnews. Using poetic language and applying some aspects of existentialism, he argued that the aesthetic became subordinate to the event in action painting. This would in turn break down ‘every distinction between art and life’. The reception of Abstract Expressionism in Europe was often highly coloured by these ideas. Among his most successful works was his book on Arshile Gorky (...