In 1950, a group of artists wrote an open letter to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. A survey exhibition was slated to open at the museum, “American Painting Today—1950,” but when the group took a look at the jury for the artist selection process, they deduced that it would almost certainly include only the more conventional art of the Met’s then-conservative tastes. The letter claimed the museum was dismissing the pioneering work done in “modern,” “advanced” modes of art that they had been practicing since the early 1940s.
Their protest would prompt a rift in American art, between the various forms of abstraction they practiced—which were supported by the Museum of Modern Art and its director Alfred H. Barr, Jr.—and the realist art that the Met curators considered the highest expression of 20th-century American painting.
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