The Irascible 18
A few days ago, when discussing the Mera Rubell talk at the Katzen, and her selection of 16 DC area artists being dubbed by the Washington Post as the "Sweet 16", I suggested that it would be a good idea for a DC glossy, like DC Modern Luxury for example, to hire a sharp photographer to assemble us 16 and re-do a modern version of the pose in Life Magazine's famous "Irascibles" photograph.
The photograph was taken by Nina Leen (January 15, 1951), and appeared in Life magazine. This very famous photo, known as the photo of "The Irascibles " shows 15 of the 18 Abstract Expressionist painters:
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)The photograph caption reads:
Barnett Newman (1905-1970)
Willem De Kooning (1904-1997)
Clyfford Still ( 1904-1980)
Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974)
Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)
Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)
Mark Rothko ( 1903-1970)
William Baziotes (1912-1963)
James Brooks (1906-1992)
Jimmy Ernst (1920-1984)
Theodoros Stamos (1922-1997)
Bradley Walker Tomlin (1899-1953)
Richard Poussette-Dart (1916-1992)
Hedda Sterne (1910)
IRASCIBLE GROUP OF ADVANCED ARTISTS LED FIGHT AGAINST SHOWSomeone once told me that originally there were only men in the group, and the photographer (I think) insisted on having a woman as well, and Hedda Sterne, who throughout her career maintained a stubborn independence from styles and trends, was brought in for the photo shoot, even though she wasn't one of the signers of the letter to the Met.
The solemn people above, along with three others, made up the group of “irascible” artists who raised the biggest fuss about the Metropolitan’s competition (following pages). All representatives of advanced art, they paint in styles which vary from the dribblings of Pollock (LIFE, Aug. 8, 1949) to the Cyclopean phantoms of Baziotes, and all have distrusted the museum since its director likened them to “flat-chested” pelicans “strutting upon the intellectual wastelands.” From left, rear, they are: Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, Hedda Sterne; (next row) Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jimmy Ernst (with bow tie), Jackson Pollock (in striped jacket), James Brooks, Clyfford Still (leaning on knee), Robert Motherwell, Bradley Walker Tomlin; (in foreground) Theodoros Stamos (on bench), Barnett Newman (on stool), Mark Rothko (with glasses). Their revolt and subsequent boycott of the show was in keeping with an old tradition among avant-garde artists. French painters in 1874 rebelled against their official juries and held the first impressionist exhibition. U.S. artists in 1908 broke with the National Academy jury to launch the famous Ashcan School. The effect of the revolt of the “irascible” remains to be seen, but it did appear to have needled the Metropolitan’s juries into turning more than half the show into a free-for-all of modern art.
Thus my brilliant marketing idea of the "Sweet 16" recreating the above photo for a DC magazine. I got dibs on Richard Pousette-Dart's cool pose on the second row from the back.