Tenth Street in the 1950s had become a center of the cities’ burgeoning arts community. The surrounding area formed a social hub of studios and artist run cooperative galleries where Abstract Expressionism ruled the day. The critic and curator Irving Sandler was a key figure as a critic and friend to many artists as well as an employee of the influential Tanager gallery. Sandler was also an active presence at the famous Artists Club. Although known for his early championing of the Abstract Expressionists, he befriended a younger generation of artists that reacted against the rhetoric of gestural abstraction, the leading style of Tenth Street. Chief among Sandler’s core were Ronald Bladen, Mark di Suvero, Lois Dodd, Al Held, Alex Katz, Alice Neel, Philip Pearlstein and George Sugarman.
In A Sweeper-Up After Artists: A Memoir, he describes how:
“Artists began to replace the hot, dirty, direct-from-the-self look with a cool, clean, distanced-from-the-self look. Each in his own way suppressed the ambiguous atmosphere of gesture painting and opted for clearly articulated images. I witnessed all of the steps in each artist’s stylistic development. I was also strongly influenced by our conversations at the time. They ushered me into the 1960s.”
Pairing key paintings and sculptures from the first half of the 1960s, this exhibition provides an eyewitness account of a pivotal moment in the history of postwar art.
Irving Sandler is best known for his seminal four-volume survey of postwar art including the influential The Triumph of American Painting. He has published a number of important monographs on artists including Alex Katz, Philip Pearlstein, Al Held and Mark di Suvero. A collection of his essays From Avant Guard to Pluralism documents over 40 years of scholarly and critical writings.