Nob Hill Gazette: Seven Famous Postwar American Artists from the Bay Area

April 30, 2024
By Bridget Quinn

There’s a famous New Yorker cover by Saul Steinberg from 1976 called “View of the World from 9th Avenue” that’s still widely reproduced today. It depicts a map of America that begins fulsomely in Manhattan — and quickly peters out from there. It’s New York as center of the knowable universe, and it captures both the overweening pride of that worldview and its absurd myopia.

Steinberg’s willful inattention to other parts of America is a good visualization of how the West Coast is often overlooked in the usual narrative of American art. It’s worth mentioning that he was married to Hedda Sterne, the only woman in the famous Life magazine photo by Nina Leen captioned “The Irascibles,” of important and otherwise male New York School artists. In one sense, that’s another story (the exclusion of women artists), but the photo is an object lesson in the ways that histories are often overlooked or elided. For example, three of those men of the New York School — Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still — all spent time in Northern California, which should come as no surprise. The Bay Area, especially, punches above its weight when it comes to postwar American art. From Alexander Calder to Richard Serra (who died at the age of 85 on March 26), here are seven mortal artists with immortal works.

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