The political strife in Europe brought about by World War II forced many artists to emigrate to the United States, bringing with them their own traditions and ideas. A number of American artists looked to the Surrealists (who were interested in exploring the unconscious and the archaic as universal symbols that could resonate with all of humanity) while creating a distinctly American style. Adolph Gottlieb, for example, infused his work with imagery inspired by Native American sources. Others, like Clyfford Still, were so disillusioned by the horrors of war that they chose to eschew traces of European tradition altogether. As Barnett Newman said, “After the monstrosity of the war, what do we do? What is there to paint? We have to start all over again.”


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