American Abstract Expressionist painter and sculptor. Born in Rotterdam. Apprenticed at the age of twelve to a firm of commercial artists and decorators; also studied for eight years at evening classes at Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. Emigrated to the USA in 1926. Supported himself at first by painting signs, department-store displays, carpentry, etc.; only decided to be primarily a painter after a year on the WPA Federal Art Project 1935. Friendship with John Graham and Gorky. In the 1930s and early 1940s painted abstractions and figures; worked c.1945-9 mainly in black and white with high velocity, erotic shapes. His first one-man exhibition at the Egan Gallery, New York, in 1948 established his reputation. Taught at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, 1948 and at Yale Art School 1950-1. Painted a series of 'Women' c.1950-5, followed by pictures related to impressions of landscape. Moved in 1963 from New York to The Springs, Long Island. Since 1969 has also made a number of sculptures.
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, p.396