Andrew Dasburg,Untitled (Still Life with Artist's Portfolio and Bowl of Fruit), ca. 1914 - 18, oil on canvas, The Jan T. and Marica Vilcek Collection, New York/© The Vilcek Foundation

The originality and potency of American art from the years after World War II cannot be disputed. Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and David Smith, to name only a few of Abstract Expressionism’s giants, are today acclaimed as modern masters. Nor can the international influence of American post-war art be questioned, pace the persistent theory—unsupported by...

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