Postwar occupation: American painters in Paris

“Americans in Paris: Abstract Painting in the Fifties,” Tibor de Nagy, New York, NY. Through September 29. Note: Gallery closed August 18 to September 3.

In the NYSun, Maureen Mullarkey reports: “A surprisingly satisfying exhibition that showcases the work of 11 postwar pilgrims to sites abandoned by the Lost Generation well before the fall of France in 1940. Men came on the GI Bill; the women, for love. What they produced had less to do with the Parisian art scene than with freedom from the pressures of the burgeoning New York art world. Seymour Boardman, Norman Bluhm, Ellsworth Kelly, Sam Francis, Al Held, and Shirley Jaffe (accompanying her husband who was on the GI Bill) arrived between 1946 and 1950. Kimber Smith followed his wife, a correspondent for Life magazine, in 1954. Joan Mitchell decided in 1959 to stay in France with Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle. Janice Biala, sister of painter Jack Tworkov, settled in France with her French-born husband in 1958. Beauford Delaney, an African American born in 1901, expatriated permanently in 1953….Mythopoetic ambitions dominated abstract painting in the 1950s. Yet all that is visible today is an ardent effort to sound the expressive depths of painting without external references or traditional devices of order and form. Looking at this work now, half a century past the exalted claims made for abstraction in its infancy, you recognize painting as an eminently earthen thing.” Read more.

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