James Brooks ( American, 1906 - 1992 )
This small oil was painted at a pivotal moment both in the artist's career and in the history of American art. In the postwar period, America was bubbling over with the energy and vitality of artists such as the Chilean surrealist Roberto Matta and Joseph Albers, who had left Europe to escape the atrocities of the World War II. The lively battle for influence between cubism and surrealism would provide the backdrop for a new generation of artists, including Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, and Robert Motherwell, who established the New York school, and in so doing redefined what it meant to be an American painter and positioned New York as the new center of the international art world. Here Brooks is tentatively negotiating this new terrain. Using his distinctive dark palette and teetering uneasily between figuration and pure abstraction, Brooks is beginning to explore the mode of painting that would define the rest of his work.