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The day the New York School of artists established itself

May 21, On This Day

Birth of the avant-garde in NYC


Exactly 70 years ago from today, on May 21, 1951, an iconic hub for art established itself in the bustling heart of New York City.


The Ninth Street Show, today known as the 9th Street Art Exhibition, opened up as a gathering of notable artists — and mainly the emergence of the post-war New York avant-garde, collectively known as the New York School.


Now considered a historic event, the artist-led exhibition marked the formal debut of Abstract Expressionism, and the first American art movement with international influence. Till this time, it was the School of Paris that had played headquarters for the global art market and typically launched new movements.

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The post-war New York avant-garde artists include names like Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, and nearly 75 artists in total, including Robert De Niro Sr., Philip Guston, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, and many others.

Their form of art — the New York School — dubbed by some at the time as ‘the crossing of a line’, was later called “the quintessential American and modern art movement”.

Some of the artworks displayed that day (and their artists):

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