(b Rotterdam, 24 Apr. 1904; d East Hampton, Long Island, NY, 19 Mar. 1997). Dutch-born painter (and latterly sculptor) who became an American citizen in 1961, one of the major figures of Abstract Expressionism. He went to America as a stowaway in 1926 and the following year settled in New York. His early work was conservative, but in 1929 he met Arshile Gorky, who became one of his closest friends and introduced him to avant-garde circles. During the 1930s and 1940s he experimented vigorously and by the time of his first one-man show in 1948 (at the Egan Gallery, New York) he was painting in an extremely energetic abstract style (often in black and white) close to that of Jackson Pollock. The exhibition established his reputation (although prosperity was still some years away) and after it he was generally regarded as sharing with Pollock the unofficial leadership of the Abstract Expressionist group.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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