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

1 of 3
  • Mark Rothko, 'Untitled' circa 1946-7
    Mark Rothko
    Untitled circa 1946-7
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1000 x 700 mm
    frame: 1032 x 736 x 50 mm
    Presented by the Mark Rothko Foundation 1986© Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/DACS 1998
  • Adolph Gottlieb, 'The Alchemist' 1945
    Adolph Gottlieb
    The Alchemist 1945
    Oil on canvas
    support: 711 x 908 mm
    frame: 742 x 943 x 56 mm
    Purchased 1980© Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation/VAGA, New York and DACS, London 2002
  • Barnett Newman, 'Moment' 1946
    Barnett Newman
    Moment 1946
    © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2002

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.