Al Held in Boiceville Studio. Photo by Andre Emmerich.
Al Held. Photo by Bernard Gotfryd.
Al Held. Photo by Andre Emmerich.
Al Held. Photo by Harold Barkley.
215 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019, United States
Art Students League of New York
14 Rue de la Grande Chaumière, 75006 Paris, France
Académie de la Grande Chaumière
1083 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128, United States
National Academy of Design
633 West 155 Street, New York, NY 10032, United States
American Academy of Arts and Letters
New Haven, CT 06520, United States
Al Held with 'White on Black Painting'. Photo by Andre Emmerich.
Initially, Al studied at a high school in the Bronx, New York. In 1948, inspired by his friend Nicholas Krushenick, Held entered Art Students League of New York. In 1951, the painter left for Paris, where he studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. It was at that time, when he decided, that Realism was not for him and moved into Abstraction.
In 1952, Al held his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Huit in Paris. The following year, he settled down in New York, where he started to paint in the Abstract Expressionist manner. In the late 1950's, Al's works gained increasing recognition in America and Europe.
In 1962, Held was appointed a Professor of Art at Yale University, a position he held till 1980. Also, in the early 1960's, Held’s paintings moved toward a growing sense of overall clarity and concreteness. Because of their sharpened contours, increasingly geometric forms and gradually enlarged scale, he was associated with practitioners of Hard-edge painting, such as Kelly and Frank Stella. However, Held remained distinct for his bold rejection of critic Clement Greenberg’s modernist doctrine, particularly its insistence on flatness.
In 1967, the painter started to incorporate space and volume into his canvases. His works, created during the period from 1967 to 1968, were exclusively black and white. By the late 1970's, Held had reintroduced colour to his work. During the 1980's, he lived in Rome, where he created a number of watercolor paintings.
Also, in 1985, Al traveled to Japan with Judy Pfaff on Crown Point Press trip to Tadashi Toda’s studio in Kyoto to make woodblock prints. In his later years, Held earned commissions of up to one million dollars. In 2005, the painter finished a large mural for the New York City Subway system.
During his lifetime, the painter's works were shown at many exhibitions, including those at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1966).
Taxi Cab II
Prime Moments II
Trajans Edge II
Untitled (F 60-1)
Straits of Malacca
The Big N
In 1988, Al was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member. In 1994, he became a full Academician.
In the mid-1950's, Al Held married Giselle Wexler. Their marriage produced one child — Mara. Some time later, the couple separated and in 1957, Yvonne Rainer, a dancer and choreographer, became Al's second wife. But their marriage didn't last long — the couple divorced in 1959. Ten years later, in 1969, Held married Sylvia Stone, a sculptor.