The Met Presents Al Held's TAXI CAB III
Now on view, through December: Al Held's (American, 1928-2005) monumental painting, Taxi Cab III, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, 2nd floor, Gallery 918. In 1959 the painter Sam Francis (1923-1994), whom Held had met in the early 1950s while studying on the G.I. Bill in Paris, lent Held his spacious, well-lit New York studio for six months. There Held created six monumental "Taxi Cab" paintings, of which Taxi Cab III is the largest. Spanning 31 feet, the geometric forms of Taxi Cab III tumble, collide, and overlap, like jazzy abstract analogs for the careening traffic and cacophonous soundtrack of Held's native city. The "Taxi Cab" series was stored for decades by the artist and not exhibited until 1987, when the large paper works were mounted on canvas and shown at New York's Robert Miller Gallery. Also on view in the same gallery at the Met are 8 smaller works by the artist, on special loan from the Al Held Foundation.
Born in Brooklyn in 1928, Al Held dropped out of high school and joined the Navy at 16, serving from 1945 to 1947. In 1948 he studied at the Art Students League in New York, and from 1950 to 1953 invoked the G.I. Bill to attend the Académie de la Grand Chaumière in Paris. Held returned to New York at the height of Abstract Expressionism and its related philosophical discourse, in which he took part. Characterized by the intellectual rigor with which he approached his work, Held was ultimately a painter of ideas, once stating "I just don't want to express myself, I want to say something."