Al Held (October 12, 1928 – July 27, 2005) was an American Abstract expressionist painter. He was particularly well known for his large scale Hard-edge paintings.
Background and education
Born in Brooklyn
, New York
in 1928, 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
. In 1949, using the support of the G.I. Bill
, he went to Paris
for three years, to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière
. He returned to New York in 1953, to struggle with his work for several years.
After his first solo Abstract expressionist exhibition
in 1959, Held's large-scale paintings of colourful, simple abstract geometric
forms gained increasing recognition in America
. In 1962, he was appointed to the Yale University
Faculty Of Art (where he would teach until 1980). In 1965, the critic Irving Sandler
curated the critically acclaimed Concrete Expressionism show at New York University
featuring the work of painters Al Held and Knox Martin
and the sculptors Ronald Bladen
, George Sugarman
and David Weinrib
In 1966, Held was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship
and received the Logan Medal of the arts
. Feeling that he'd reached the end of his style's potential, he shifted in 1967 to black and white images that dealt with challenging perspectives and "spatial conundrums." Some critics dismissed this work as simply disorienting; others declared it Held's finest achievement to date. By the late 70's, he had re-introduced colour to his work.
In his later years, Held earned commissions of up to one million dollars. In 2005, he completed a large, colorful mural in the New York City Subway system, at East 53rd Street and Lexington.
At age 76, Held was found dead in his villa swimming pool near Camerata, Italy, on July 27, 2005. It is believed he died of natural causes.