Entertainment » Vol. 11

The New York School of Painters Examines Abstract Expressionism in Director Emile De Antonio’s 1973 Film Painters Painting.

By Lynn N. Capri

Virgil Films & Entertainment and Arthouse Films showcase some of America’s greatest contemporary artists from 1940-1970 in the fascinating documentary film “Painters Painting.” Originally released in 1973, this incredible portrait pays homage to the contemporary New York art scene and its groundbreaking movement that launched abstract expression.  Through a slew of archive interviews with renowned abstract artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Barnett Newman, Frank Stella and others, Director Emile de Antonio (Point of Order, Millhouse) examines how artists broke away from European influence to create new expression in contemporary art.

Other featured interviewees include artists Willem de Kooning, Bob Rauschenberg, Jackson Pollock, Philip Pavia, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Noland, Hans Hofmann, Jules Olitski, Robert Motherwell, Larry Poons, William Rubin, Phillip Leider, Larry Poons, Helen Frankenthaler, Henry Geldzahler, author and critic Thomas B. Hess, art critic Hilton Kramer, art collector Robert Scull, and gallery owner Leo Castelli.

Providing an intimate setting between the New York School of painters (The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s and the 1960s in New York City. They drew inspiration from Surrealism and the contemporary avant-garde art movements, in particular action painting, abstract expressionism, and the interaction of friends in New York City’s vanguard art circle.) and audience viewers, director Emile de Antonio dissects the period of Abstract Expressionism from Hard Edge and Color Field painting to Pop Art. The artists convey insightful details of their renowned paintings and their non-traditional methods and mediums.  The viewing audience gets an up-close look at the very paintings that catapulted the art movement into a new era.

The synthesized involvement of the acclaimed artists profiled in the film infused the art world with abstract expressionism, still a significant influence on today’s artists. So for artists and art aficionados alike, and even for those as of yet unfamiliar with this period in the influential New York art scene, the “Painters Painting” DVD, newly re-mastered and restored by the Museum of Modern Art and the University of Wisconsin Film Department, is a definitive must-have.


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