Art Term

New York school

The term New York school seems to have come into use in the 1940s to describe the radical art scene that emerged in New York after the Second World War

Mark Rothko, ‘Untitled’ c.1946–7
Mark Rothko
Untitled c.1946–7
Tate
© Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/DACS 2017
Adolph Gottlieb, ‘The Alchemist’ 1945
Adolph Gottlieb
The Alchemist 1945
Tate
© Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation/VAGA, New York and DACS, London 2017
Barnett Newman, ‘Moment’ 1946
Barnett Newman
Moment 1946
Tate
© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017

The intensely creative and innovative developments in New York in the 1940s gave birth to the radical and world-conquering new style of painting that in the early 1950s became known as abstract expressionism. The two terms are effectively interchangeable, that is the artists of the New York school are the abstract expressionists.

The term New York school, which seems to have come into use in the 1940s, has echoes of school of Paris and may also be seen to reflect the notion that after the Second World War, New York took over from Paris as the world centre for innovation in modern art.