American, 1928 - 2005
An abstract oil painter often using large, geometric forms with aggressive coloration, Al Held became a major figure in the New York art scene in the late 1950’s. His work is stark, usually large-scale, and much of its "in-your-face" forcefulness reflects his desire to bridge the division between viewers and his paintings.
He attended the Art Students League from 1948 to 1949. Then with money from the G.I. Bill of Rights, he went to Paris and enrolled at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. Ossip Zadkine, Russian-born sculptor, was one of his teachers, and he had his first solo exhibition at Galerie Huit in Paris in 1952.Until 1959, he painted in the Abstract Expressionist style, admittedly influenced by opposites, Jackson Pollock's emotional gestural involvement in painting and Piet Mondrian's objectivity.
Between 1960 and 1967, Held changed from the heavy textures of Abstract Expressionism to tightly controlled geometric pieces, often giving the appearance of being suspended on the canvas by not touching the edges with color. Held received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1966 and from 1962 to 1978, he was a Professor of Art at Yale University.