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Adam M. Thomas

(b Bronx, New York, Oct 29, 1927).

American painter and filmmaker. A bodybuilder, gymnast and budding photographer in high school, Leslie served in the United States Coast Guard in 1945–6. He studied briefly at the Art Students League and then at New York University on the GI Bill from 1947 to 1949. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Leslie emerged as an experimental filmmaker, creating such films as Directions: A Walk after the War Games (1946), and a preeminent second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter. Leslie developed a slashing, gestural style of painting in which splashes and free brushwork are set off against broad strips and rectangular patches of color, as evident in Pythoness (1959; Muncie, IN, Ball State U. Mus. A.). Based on the strength of his abstract paintings, critic Clement Greenberg included Leslie in the New Talent exhibition at the Kootz Gallery, New York, in 1950. Leslie was part of the seminal Ninth Street Show...

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

David Anfam

(b New York, Dec 4, 1903; d Rhode Island, Feb 8, 1991).

American photographer. He began serious photography in the early 1930s in New York as a member of the Film and Photo League (1932–5), a group that stressed its socialist commitment to documentary. This was reflected in his early records of Harlem and the Bowery but it was already counterbalanced by an approach that abstracted the subject, often through a concentration upon detail, the play of light and shade, or the inclusion of two-dimensional street signs.

The Tabernacle City photographs of the religious community of the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts (1941) inevitably led to a break with the League’s aims and influenced his formal output between 1941 and 1945. Siskind seemed to ally himself with Group f.64’s work in his desire to achieve a heightened reality by using the close-up while, on the other hand, his concept of ‘the drama of objects’, plunging everyday things into enigmatic or symbolic relationships, recalled Surrealism. In the ...