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.











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 Calendars
The Last Painting

Arshile Gorky, The Calendars, 1946 - 1947.

Arshile Gorky, The Last Painting, 1948.











The Artist and His Mother

Arshile Gorky, The Artist and His Mother, 1926 - 1936.
Willem de Kooning, Seated Woman, 1940.











Pink Angels

Willem de Kooning, Pink Angels, 1945.












Wilem de Kooning, Excavation, 1950.











Manhattan skyline, 1950











Willem de Kooning, Interchange, 1955.
Willem de Kooning, Police Gazette, 1955.





















Willem de Kooning, Seated Woman, 1940.
Willem de Kooning, Woman I, 1952.