In the space of a year, The New American Painting was seen in eight cities in eight countries. In each city the exhibition was held in the major institution associated with modern art and a catalogue similar to this was issued in the language of the country. It is not hard to imagine the quantity of journalism generated, nor the difficulty of assessing the response. It is true to say that the paintings created a sensation: whether enthusiastically, hesitantly, in the form of back-handed compliments, or of real hostility, it was acknowledged that in America a totally 'new' -- a unique and indigenous -- kind of painting has appeared, one whose influence can be clearly seen in works of artists in Europe as well as in many other parts of the world. The quotations are necessarily brief. Elisions are not indicated, but we have tried not to distort any writer's main intent.
The great reach of American painting becomes apparent when it not only comprises segments of reality dipped into vivid color by Hartigan, but also the severity of Barnett Newman, although the main influence lies in the direction of Tachisme. European influences are caught in the occasional appearance of painterly effects, particularly in absorbing surrealist motifs. Of Kandinsky, who means so much to European abstract painting, there is strikingly little, which is interesting because of the central position that the realization of spatial concept takes up in American painting. This in particular is its decisive character: the direct translation of unlimited space into the gesture of
BASEL, SWITZERLAND Kunsthalle 19 April - 26 May 1958