Jackson Pollock–“Lavender Mist”

Although he died relatively early in the Beat Movement (1956), artist Jackson Pollock is considered a central figure in the art of the beats. Alfonso Ossorio said of him: “Here I saw a man who had both broken all the traditions of the past and unified them, who had gone beyond cubism, beyond Picasso and surrealism, beyond everything that had happened in art.” This 1950 piece, “Lavender Mist” is considered seminal in his body work. Harold Rosenberg called it “…not a picture, but an event.”

National Gallery of Art Online http://www.nga.gov/feature/pollock/artist2.shtm


Robert De Niro, Sr.


De Niro, Sr. was part of the post-war art phenomenon, and he bridged the gap between European Modernism and Abstract Expressionism. He incorporated the styles of countless renowned artists including those of Matisse, Bonnard, and his beloved mentor Hans Hofmann. He surrounded himself with many famous faces of the 1940s including playwright Tennessee Williams while living with his wife in Greenwich Village in New York. Quite a perfectionist, De Niro would paint and repaint his works countless times until he was satisfied, though satisfaction rarely came. He began exhibiting his work in 1946, and continued to do so through the 50s and 60s. He received much critical praise until culture of the 60s became geared toward pop culture, and the success of his fellows eluded him. He continued the exploration of color until he died in 1993 and his works are still displayed today.

~Kendall Reasons

Sources: http://www.pbs.org/hanshofmann/robert_de_niro_sr_001.html

Image: http://www.robertdenirosr.com/Front_Page.html

Willem de Kooning–“Woman and Bicycle”

Willem de Kooning was a Dutch-born, American artist who worked in the Abstract Expressionist style. During the 1940s and 50s, he and many other abstract expressionist artists like Jackson Pollock frequented the Cedar Tavern, where many Beat writers also drank.
This painting was created amidst the Beat Movement in 1952-3.
National Gallery of Art:

Larry Rivers–“Washington Crossing the Delaware”

Larry Rivers

When artist Larry Rivers’ first art show opened in New York City in 1949, Clement Greenberg called him an “amazing beginner. . . a better composer of pictures than was Bonnard himself.” His work influenced and was inspired by his relationships with Beat Generation writers, particularly Frank O Hara, who wrote a poem as a response to this painting. It can be read here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20379


The Larry Rivers Foundation: http://www.larryriversfoundation.org/collaborations.html

Robert Motherwell

Robert Motherwell

Robert Saltonstall Mattison calls American artist Robert Motherwell “a major figure of the Abstract Expressionist generation” and Ginsberg found Motherwell’s work to be important to the beat movement (Caws). Click on the image to see more of Motherwell’s work.


MoMA The Collection http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A4126&page_number=&template_id=6&sort_order=1#bio
Mary Ann Caws Robert Motherwell: With Pen and Brush

Franz Kline

Franz Kline

This is a piece called “Untitled II” (ink and oil on telephone book pages) by  painter Franz Kline (1910-1962).
Kline studied art in Boston and London before moving to New York where he became involved in the Abstract Expressionist Movement (late 1940s and 1950s). Kline was a regular at the Cedar Tavern where he drank with beat poets like Jack Kerouac and many fellow Abstract Expressionists. Click on the image to see additional work by Kline.

Sources:David Anfam, Oxford University Press posted on MoMA “The Collection”
Guggenheim Collection Online http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/artists/bios/812