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Al Held Biography


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Coming to prominence in the 1950s, American artist Al Held was a painter, working in the abstract expressionist and geometric styles. An art student in Paris and New York, he began his creative life in the Big Apple and worked there for many years. And although he was a part of these contemporary art movements, his work was unique and often deviated from the standard characteristics of these forms. The originality in his work came from his explorations of three-dimensional space, using colour and texture to express his meaning.

Bold colours and layers of paint meant his pieces seemed to pop out from the surface into the space in front of the canvas. He moved from the use of simple black and white abstract forms to brightly coloured geometric shapes with clean, sharp lines. Despite this aspect of precision, Held stated that the message behind his work was about finding a way to live with the chaos and complexity inherent in human existence. He was well-regarded in his lifetime and was awarded many honours, including artist in residence at the American Academy in Rome, the Frank G Logan Medal from the Art Institute of Chicago and membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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