Existential Angst
Walking Man
"We felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a world devastated by a great depression and a fierce World War, and it was impossible at that time to paint the kind of painting that we were doing - flowers, reclining nudes, and people playing the cello. At the same time we could not move into the situation of a pure world of unorganized shapes and forms, or color relations, a world of sensation. And I would say that, for some of us, this was our moral crisis in relation to what to paint. So that we actually began, so to speak, from scratch, as if painting were not only dead but had never existed." - Barnett Newman
Alberto Giacometti, Walking Man, 1960.











Pollock and Krasner in the studio

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in the studio, 1949.











The Third Hand

Hans Hofmann:
"You don't work from nature.  You work by heart. This is no good.  You will repeat yourself."
Jackson Pollock: 
"I am nature... Put up or shut up.  Your theories don't interest me."
Hans Hofmann, The Third Hand, 1947.











Highest praise given to Krasner by Hofmann:
"This painting is so good you'd never know it was done by a woman."


Image Surfacing

Hans Hofmann, Bachanale, 1946.
Lee Krasner, Image Surfacing, c. 1945.











In 2004, Image Surfacing sold at auction for $153,000.
In 2015, David Geffen sold Pollock's No. 17A to (hedge fund manager) Kenneth C. Griffin in a private sale, for $200 million, making it currently the 5th most expensive work.

Image Surfacing

Lee Krasner, Image Surfacing, c. 1945.
Jackson Pollock, No. 17A, 1948.











Lee Krasner, Shattered Color, 1947.
Lee Krasner, Mosaic, 1947.











Lee Krasner, The City, 1953. 48 X 36 inches
Lee Krasner, Birth, 1956. 83 X 48 inches.












Hans Namuth, Jackson Pollock, 1950.











Lee Krasner, The Seasons, 1957. 7 3/4' X 17'.











Existentialism and the New York School

Man Pointing

existentialism = a 20th century philosophy that is centered upon the analysis of existence and of the way man finds himself existing in the world, the regards human existence as not exhaustively describabble or understandable in scientific terms, and that stresses the freedom and responsibility of the individual
Factors that bred Existential approaches:
  • The world wars were horrific, depraved and absurd
  • Many countries reckoning with their participation and denial of
    the horrors of the Nazi agenda
  • Sense that religion had failed to heal society's wounds
  • Amidst this lack of reason and order, the only thing a person could surely know was their self
  • the world and life are essentially meaningless, therefore it is up to each individual to give themselves meaning
Alberto Giacometti, Man Pointing, 1947.











The Artist and His Mother

The Art ist and HIs Mother

Arshile Gorky, The Artist and His Mother, 1926 - 1936.
Gorky and His Mother c. 1912.





















The Calendars

Arshile Gorky, The Calendars, 1946 - 1947.

Arshile Gorky, The Last Painting, 1948.











Life with Gorky, featuring "Mougouch"










L'art Informel
a.k.a. Tachisme = french for stain
It's All in the City
Characterized by:
  • Spontaneous brushwork, drips, blobs and
    calligraphic scribbling
  • Suggested the body, or the presence of it
  • Existential consciousness
American critics saw European art of the 40s and 50s as bound and restricted by the tradition of belle peinture = the idea of the painting as being a beautiful and luxurious object, a bed of delight for the senses
Wols, It's All Over the City, 1947.











Wols, Blue Phantom, 1951.











Study After Velazquez
Head Surrounded by Sides of Beef
Francis Bacon, Study After Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1953.
Francis Bacon, Head Surrounded by Sides of Beef, 1954.











Francis Bacon, Study for a Head, 1952.











Pope Innocent X
Nicolas Poussin, The Massacre of the Innocents, 1564.

Diego Velazquez, Pope Innocent X, 1650.

Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin, 1925.











Bacon's recurrent imagery:


  • Tubular framed furniture
  • Flayed beef - hanging as though crucified
  • Open mouthed figure with monstrous teeth
  • Umbrella obscuring the figure's eyes
Francis Bacon, Painting, 1946.











Bacon's Furniture
Bacon Self Portrait
Furniture and rugs designed by Bacon c. 1930, and Self-portrait, 1973.













Francis Bacon in his studio

Francis Bacon, Self-Portrait, 1969.
Bacon in his studio
Purchased at auction by Damien Hirst
in 2007 for $33,081,000











Francis Bacon, Figure Study II, 1945 - 1946.












Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer on Light Ground, 1964.











Francis Bacon, Triptych, 1973.