Irving Sandler

  • Willem De Kooning

    The image of Willem De Kooning that emerges from the critical writing of the last 15 years is that of a modern master who in his late 60s and 70s has earned the right to give free rein to every impulse and who has retained the sureness of eye and hand to do so triumphantly. There is general agreement that the impulses unleashed are lyrical, indeed bucolic; this recent style is often attributed to his move from New York City to eastern Long Island. As Diane Waldman wrote: “Exuberant, free and innovatory, [de Kooning’s paintings] are a great late flowering.” This is the summary remark of her

  • John D. Graham

    JOHN D. GRAHAM’S NAME comes up whenever the origins of Abstract Expressionism are discussed, but his role in its development has remained shadowy. His stature as an artist is just as obscure at this time; however, the current show at the Museum of Modern Art, small though it is, may prompt an overdue rehabilitation.1 Although I believe that Graham’s painting has yet to receive the critical attention it deserves, I will refer to it only in passing, focusing instead on his contribution as an esthetician and connoisseur in the 1930s.

    During that decade, vanguard artists organized themselves into

  • 2. The Surrealist Emigres in New York

    PARIS FELL TO THE NAZIS on June 14, 1940. The center of global art was cut off from the world. Leading Parisian artists, many of them Surrealists, fled to America, adding to the number who had been emigrating since 1939. The more prominent exiles were Leger, Chagall, Lipchitz, Mondrian, Ernst, Breton, Dali, Masson, Matta, Seligmann, Tanguy, Tchelitchew and Zadkine. By an act of war, New York became the international art capital.

    During the thirties, the American vanguard rejected Surrealism and favored geometric styles, heavily influenced by Neo-Plasticism, Constructivist and Bauhaus rationalism.

  • Ronald Bladen

    WITHIN A SHORT TIME after his arrival in New York from San Francisco in 1958, Ronald Bladen had already achieved an underground reputation. His shows of Abstract Expressionist paintings at the Brata Gallery on Tenth Street in 1958 and 1960, and of painted wood reliefs at the Green Gallery in 1962, had commanded attention, though not as much as their quality merited. So had the four constructions he had completed since 1963 (his entire production) when they were exhibited, one at the Park Place Gallery in 1964, that and two more in the Concrete Expressionism show at New York University in the

  • Reinhardt: The Purist Blacklash

    AD REINHARDT HAS CHAMPIONED abstract art for the past three decades, and for the last half of that period, he has stood for purism in painting. His uncompromising position negates every other esthetic attitude. Relativism is rejected outright. He allows that he may be wrong but insists that if he is not, then he is absolutely right.

    Reinhardt’s dicta are always witty and provocative, and more often than not, profound. But it is the brilliance of his painting that has forced his contemporaries to take heed of his writings and, understandably, to rebut.1 The controversy has been of value, for the

  • The Club

    FOR NOSTALGIA-PRONE ARTISTS who frequented the Waldorf Cafeteria, the lectures at the “Subjects of the Artist” School and Studio 35, the Club and the Cedar Street Tavern, the decade following the Second World War was “the good old days.” Uncontaminated by success, artists were supposed to have been purer then, more comradely and preoccupied with artistic matters. For others—the careerists—the social history of Abstract Expressionism, once it became important, has been something to rewrite. With an eye to future position, they have tried to change the past. Both attitudes (aggravated by natural