Al Held (October 12, 1928 – July 27, 2005); American abstract expressionist painter. He was particularly well known for his large scale hard-edge paintings. As an artist, multiple stylistic changes occurred throughout his career, however, none of these occurred at the same time as any popular emerging style or acted against a particular art form. In the 1950s his style reflected the abstract expressionist tone and then transitioned to a geometric style in the 60s. During the 1980s there was a shift into acrylic painting that emphasized bright geometric space whose depth reflected infinity. From 1962 to 1980 he was a professor of art at Yale University.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1928, he grew up in the East Bronx, the son of a poor Jewish family thrown onto welfare during the Depression. Held showed no interest in art until leaving the Navy in 1947. Inspired by his friend Nicholas Krushenick, Held enrolled in the Art Students League of New York. He originally thought about studying in Mexico under the prominent muralist David Siqueiros who created gigantic pieces that contained intense political material. However, the G.I. accreditation that he planned on using to help with his travels was not accepted at the school he planned on attending. In 1949, using the support of the G.I. Bill, he went to Paris for 3 years, to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. In Paris, he decided that realism was not for him, and moved into abstraction. During the early 50s Avant-garde painters in the United States were receiving fresh inspiration from abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem De Kooning. Together these artists brought a new way of thinking that influenced Held."
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Suzan Hamer


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