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date: 29 November 2020

New York Schoollocked

  • Steven Johnson
  •  and Olivia Mattis


A loose confederation of painters, sculptors, dancers, composers, poets and critics based in New York from approximately 1947 to 1963. Art historians apply the term to a group of artists, including Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and others, who collectively established the style of American painting known as Abstract Expressionism. Musicologists apply the term to a group of composers, including John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, Christian Wolff and David Tudor, who shared many aesthetic values with these artists, and in some cases formed deep friendships and synergies with them.

The group of New York School composers, however, was larger than the ‘circle of Cage’. Edgard Varèse and Stefan Wolpe also belonged to the group, serving as mentors and teachers; Lucia Dlugoszewski, a Varèse student, had her compositions first performed by New York School artists; and Ralph Shapey attended some of their gatherings. The group often met at the Cedar Tavern or at The Club (39 East 8th Street), where Cage delivered several lectures, including his celebrated ‘Lecture on Nothing’ (...

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