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Article

American, 20th century, female.

Born 23 December 1901, in Cleveland (Ohio); died 22 September 1994, in New York City.

Painter, sculptor. Abstraction.

Modernism, New York School, Abstract Expressionism.

Dorothy Dehner’s immediate family (her mother, father, and sister) had all passed away by the time she was 18 and her aunt Flo became her primary caregiver. Her aunts, Flo and Cora, were artistically inclined and aroused her interests in the arts. In 1915, Dorothy, her mother, Lulu, older sister Louise, and aunt Flo moved to California. In 1916, Dehner enrolled at Pasadena High School and began to study theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse under director Gilmore Brown. In 1922, she studied drama at the University of California Los Angeles; however, she didn’t graduate with a degree. After only one year at the University of California Los Angeles, she decided to pursue a full-time career as an actor. Dehner moved to New York in the mid-1920s and was cast in several Off-Broadway productions including Walter Hartwig’s Little Theater Productions....

Article

Harry Rand

(b New York, March 14, 1903; d Easthampton, NY, March 4, 1974).

American painter and sculptor. One of the few members of the New York School born in New York, Gottlieb studied at the Art Students League under Robert Henri and John Sloan in 1920–21. His teachers communicated a dark brushy approach to painting that, although highly unfashionable at a time when Cubism ruled modernity, nevertheless established the defining characteristics of what became Abstract Expressionism. The next year Gottlieb travelled through France and Germany, studying at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris, schooling that may have re-enforced an otherwise reactionary approach to painting. Following his return to New York in 1923, he attended the Parsons School of Design and Cooper Union Institute. The most widely travelled of the New York painters (rivalled only by Franz Kline), having been to Paris, Munich, and Berlin before even beginning advanced formal studies, Gottlieb was the least provincial of his colleagues. The breadth of his training and art-historical knowledge served him well in his own teaching, his principal means of support during the mid-1930s. His first one-man exhibition was in ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1945, in Torrington (Connecticut).

Painter, sculptor, mixed media.

Bad Painting, New Image.

Neil Jenney studied at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, where he encountered Abstract Expressionism, which became an important influence on his early work. He lives and works in New York....

Article

American, 20th–21st century, male.

Born 12 May 1934, in Omaha (Nebraska).

Painter, sculptor, muralist. Figures, abstract, animals, numerology, mysticism.

Figurative Expressionism.

Rhino Horn Group.

Jay Milder was the third of four children born to Leo and Jeannette Milder. His family came to the United States from Bratslav, Ukraine in 1851. They are descendants of the Baal Shem Tov, the patriarch of Hasidic Judaism, and the Hasidic mystic Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav.

At 17 years old, Milder graduated from high school and moved to New York City where he supported himself by working in the garment district. He went to Paris in 1954 to study art at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Sorbonne. He studied cubist painting with Andre L’Hote and sculpture with Ossip Zadkine. From Paris, Milder travelled to Morocco and stayed in the Arab section of Tétouan. Milder had a profound experience inside Tétouan’s spiritual district, which led him to a greater aesthetic awareness and influenced his artistic development, most notably his vibrant palette and organic use of materials and forms. Around this time, Milder delved into theosophy and Eastern philosophy and examined his hereditary roots in mysticism....

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 Asheville, NC, April 10, 1924; d Port Clyde, ME, Jan 5, 2010).

American painter and sculptor. He served in the US Air Force from 1942 to 1946 and after his discharge took advantage of the G.I. Bill to study at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. There he was taught by Ilya Bolotowsky, learning about Neo-plasticism and Mondrian; he also had one course with Albers family, §1, whom he found rigid and doctrinaire but from whom he learnt about Bauhaus theories. During this period he also developed an interest in Paul Klee’s work, especially in his use of colour. In 1948, again under the G.I. Bill, Noland travelled to Paris. There he studied sculpture in Ossip Zadkine’s studio and, guided by him, also painted, though Zadkine’s Cubist aesthetic seemed a little old-fashioned to him after his Bauhaus training. While in Paris he also saw paintings by Picasso, Miró, and Matisse and in 1949 had his first one-man show at the Galerie Raymond Creuze....

Article

W. Jackson Rushing

(b St Paul, MN, June 8, 1916; d New York, Oct 25, 1992).

American painter, sculptor, and photographer. His father, Nathaniel Pousette-Dart (1886–1965), was a painter and critic. Pousette-Dart grew up near Valhalla, NY, and moved to New York in 1936, where, as a self-taught artist, he had his first one-man show in 1941. He taught at the New School for Social Research (1959–61), the School of Visual Arts (1964), and Columbia University (1968–9), all in New York; at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY (1970–74), and at the Art Students League, New York (1980–85).

Pousette-Dart’s early paintings, typified by Desert (1940; New York, MOMA), are a synthesis of Cubism, the organic Surrealism of Miró, archaic pictographs, and indigenous American and African art. The zoomorphs, totemic forms, and elemental signs of his early paintings and sculptures are related to an interest in a Jungian primal consciousness. The youngest of the Abstract Expressionists, he was the first to paint on a heroic scale, as in ...

Article

Karen Wilkin

(Roland)

(b Decatur, IN, March 9, 1906; d nr Bennington, VT, May 23, 1965).

American sculptor, painter, and draughtsman. Virtually self-taught as a sculptor, David Smith liked to say that he ‘belonged’ with painters. His art training began when he moved to New York in 1926 and, on the advice of his future wife, the sculptor Dorothy Dehner (1908–94), he enrolled at the Art Students League (ASL; 1927–32) to study painting and drawing. There he had his first exposure to advanced modernist art. Smith’s early friendship with painters such as Adolph Gottlieb and Milton Avery was reinforced during the Depression of the 1930s, when he participated in the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project in New York. These relationships endured even after the Smiths moved to Bolton Landing, NY, near Lake George, in 1940.

Probably the most significant of Smith’s early connections was with the painter, collector, and connoisseur John Graham, who provided Smith with information about the latest European art, something in short supply in New York at the time. Through Graham, Smith met Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, and Willem de Kooning. Graham also introduced the Smiths to African sculpture and later guided them through Paris on their first European trip in ...