After the ravages of World War II, Paris once again became the place where young artists gathered and picked up conversations about what art should be. Through contact with an older generation of avant-garde practitioners, they were exposed to the use of chance composition, primary color palettes, and geometric abstraction, which they applied in increasingly radical experiments. As artist Ellsworth Kelly remembered: “At the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, I noticed the large windows between the paintings interested me more than the art exhibited. . . . From then on, painting as I had known it was finished
for me.” By the end of the 1940s, these vocabularies had opened up new spaces for abstract painting. The contacts made in Paris between artists from places as far afield as the United States, Latin America, and Eastern Europe became an ongoing network of exchange, crossing ideological divides and the boundaries created by Cold War politics.
Organized by Christian Rattemeyer, Harvey S. Shipley Miller Associate Curator, with Ana Torok and Danielle Johnson, Curatorial Assistants, Department of Drawings and Prints.