• May 19, 2020 14:12

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Seventy years ago tomorrow, May 20, 1950, the New York Times published a letter to Roland L. Redmond, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It, protested the selection of the museum’s ‘American Painting Today -- 1950’ exhibition and was signed by eighteen American painters, including William Baziotes, as well as ten sculptors, including Peter Grippe. (The second picture below is Baziotes' Clown and Clock, 1943-46, and the third is Peter Grippe's Daley Brothers' Moving, 1944.)

The group was critical of the makeup of the juries: Among the jurists were Charles Burchfield, Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Millard Sheets. The next day, May 21, a competing paper, The Herald Tribune, published an article, presumably by their art critic Emily Genauer, defending the Museum and calling the protestors ‘The Irascible 18.’

On July 3, 1950, seventy-five artists issued a statement defending the museum. Among them were Will Barnet, Philip Evergood, Reginald Marsh, and Harry Sternberg.

Generally now known as the New York School, most of the protestors were photographed by Nina Leen for Life Magazine’s January 15, 1951, issue. It was Barnett Newman (who also largely composed the letter), who suggested that they should look like bankers.


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  • Susan Teller
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We feature American paintings and works on paper from the 1920s to the 1950s with special interest in the Urban/Industrial Scene, Modernism, Atelier 17, Surrealism, and African American work.

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