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Ken Carpenter

(b Bronx, NY, Jan 16, 1909; d New York, NY, May 7, 1994).

American critic. He studied at the Art Students League in New York (1924–5) and obtained his BA from Syracuse University (1930). He began his writing career while working as a clerk for US Customs, with frequent contributions to Partisan Review on politics, literature, and art. From 1940 to 1943 he was an editor of that journal and from 1942 to 1949 was a regular art critic for Nation. Greenberg came to prominence as the most articulate early proponent of such Abstract Expressionist painters as Jackson Pollock, Adolph Gottlieb, and Hans Hofmann, and of the sculptor David Smith. Greenberg’s exhibition, Post Painterly Abstraction (1964), championed a second generation of American and Canadian abstract painters such as Jack Bush, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Jules Olitski. He defined their work in Heinrich Wölfflin’s stylistic terms of ‘openness’ and linear clarity, arguing it was ‘fresh’ as the equally linear-style Pop art was not. In one of his last important articles, ‘Counter-avant-garde’ (...

Article

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....

Article

Cynthia Goodman

(Georg Albert)

(b Weissenberg, Bavaria, March 21, 1880; d New York, Feb 17, 1966).

American painter, teacher and theorist of German birth. He moved with his family to Munich in 1886 and in 1896 left home to become assistant to the director of public works of the State of Bavaria; he distinguished himself with a number of inventions, including an electromagnetic comptometer, a radar device for ships, a sensitized light bulb and a portable freezer unit for military purposes. In spite of his parents’ strong objection and their hopes for his career as a scientist, in 1898 he enrolled in the art school run by Moritz Heymann (b 1870) in Munich. Hofmann subsequently studied with a succession of teachers and was particularly influenced by Willi Schwarz (b 1889), who familiarized him with French Impressionism, a style that affected his earliest known paintings, such as Self-portrait (1902; New York, Emmerich Gal., see Goodman, 1986, p. 14).

In 1903 Hofmann was introduced by Schwarz to ...

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

(b Buffalo, NY, Dec 24, 1913; d New York, Aug 30, 1967).

American painter and writer. He was renowned for his work as an abstract painter and for his influence on Minimalism; he also wrote and lectured throughout his life, using these forms to deal with matters he felt were best left out of painting. He set his date of birth in the context of a personal, cultural, and political chronology, describing it as having taken place nine months after the Armory Show had ended, on the eve of Europe’s entry into World War I and during the year in which Kazimir Malevich painted the first geometric abstract painting. Extensive travel throughout the world fed his encyclopedic interests.

Reinhardt studied (1931–5) literature and then art history under Meyer Schapiro at Columbia University, New York, where he gained a broad-based arts education; also under Schapiro’s influence he became involved in what were then considered radical campus politics. Reinhardt was editor of the humorous campus publication ...

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 (...

Article

Deborah A. Middleton

(b Brooklyn, New York, Aug 11, 1927; d Pound Ridge, NY, Jan 24, 2006).

American art historian and museum curator. Rubin has been credited with defining the historical narrative of modern art through his writings and exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the 1970s, and 1980s. The vision of founding director Alfred H(amilton) Barr to establish the Museum of Modern Art as a global authority in modern paintings and sculpture was continued during Rubin’s tenure as Director of the Department of Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art (1973–88).

William was one of three sons of a successful New York textile merchant. Rubin grew up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York and attended Fieldstone School where he interned on special museum education projects with teacher and mentor Victor D’Amico who was also Director of Education at the Museum of Modern Art. While at Columbia University he joined the military during World War II to serve in the American occupation forces in Europe. Upon completing his undergraduate degree in ...

Article

Joyce Zemans

(Leonard)

(b Shoeburyness, Essex, Feb 4, 1909; d Vancouver, BC, Nov 22, 1998).

Canadian painter, draughtsman and writer of English birth. In 1912 his family emigrated to British Columbia. Educated at Victoria College, BC (1926–7), and the Provincial Normal School in Victoria (1929), he studied art at the Euston Road Art School, London (1937), the André Lhote School of Art, Paris (1938), and the Art Students’ League, New York (1948–9). From 1929 to 1937 he taught art to children in Vancouver and in 1938 joined the Vancouver School of Art, where he was head of painting and drawing from 1945 to 1966. In 1944–5 he served with the Canadian war artists. In 1955 he became the first instructor at the Emma Lake Workshop, Regina College, Sask. He also executed costume and poster designs for theatre and dance, as well as murals for Edmonton Airport, the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Vancouver....