Upon returning to New York in 1952 after studying in Paris, Al Held emerged as one of the most original and ambitious members of the second generation of abstract expressionism. His style rapidly evolved during this period, and the impressionistic mode of his early compositions rapidly developed into monumental canvases which combined the muscular gestures of Franz Kline with the geometric clarity of Ellsworth Kelly. From 1967 to 1979, Held reduced his palette to black and white, eliminating what he perceived as decorative color in order to intensify the clarity, order, and structure of his work. 66 6-A exemplifies the artist's aesthetic concerns during this crucial period of his career, its intuitive interplay of circular and rectilinear forms producing a dynamic sense of movement and a harmonious articulation of pictorial space. Bridging the gap between abstract expressionism and minimalism, Held was one of the most significant American painters of the 1960s, and this drawing embodies the innovations he made during the most fertile period of his career.
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