American abstract painter associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement; an outspoken polemicist for abstract art of the greatest possible purity. Born in New York, the son of Russian and German immigrants. Studied art history at Columbia University, New York, 1931-5 and then attended simultaneously the American Artists' School under Carl Holty and the National Academy of Design. Began to work in an abstract late Cubist style and in 1937 joined the society American Abstract Artists. Worked on the WPA Federal Art Project 1937-41. First one-man exhibition at Columbia University 1943. Served in the US Navy 1944-5. After a period of more calligraphic brushwork with decentralised all-over compositions, began about 1948 to show renewed interest in Cubist structuring and embarked on a process of progressive simplification. Became very friendly with the Abstract Expressionists and was a prominent contributor to the group's discussions. His paintings gradually became completely rectilinear and symmetrical, while combinations of colours gave place to monochrome. From 1955 worked almost exclusively in near-black. Died in New York.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.622-3