new-york

Roy Newell, Lifelines, 1995, oil on board, 10 1⁄4 × 9 3⁄8".

Roy Newell

Simon Lee | New York

Roy Newell taught himself how to paint at the New York Public Library on Forty-Second Street in Manhattan, working day after day for ten years in the 1930s and ’40s. During this period, he met Willem de Kooning by chance in the library’s art reference room—a popular haunt for many artists at the time. Not long after, Newell was swept into the orbit of soon-to-be AbEx stars including Franz Kline and Arshile Gorky. When they scaled up their canvases and gestures, so did he. Then, in what would remain his most dramatic creative act, Newell destroyed everything he had ever made. Afterward, he tasked himself with mastering a quieter form of picture making: tight diminutive geometries, each with blocks and stripes of singing, mismatched color. He would revise these works again and again, encrusting the surfaces, turning ostensibly finished passages of paint into underpainting, building up

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