Musée d’Arts de Nantes

United States of Abstraction

American artists in France, 1946-1964

Curator: Sophie Lévy, Michel Hilaire, Claire Lebossé et Maud Marron-Wojewodzki

The United States of Abstraction exhibition. American Artists in France, 1946-1964 explores the intense presence of American artists and how they helped redefine abstract art in France, at a time when the global geography of art was in upheaval. After the Second World War, the spotlight turned to New York, at the expense of Paris, which lost its status as the world capital of art.

The history of Abstract Expressionism, of the New York schools, and its heroes, Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning among others, thus becomes the dominant art narrative in 1945. However, many American artists, musicians and writers, men and women, come to study and create in France. Between 1946 and 1953, many benefited from the G.I. Bill, this scholarship allowing any veteran to finance his studies, by enrolling in Parisian art schools and academies.

More than 400 artists are thus galvanized by the cultural attraction of Paris, its museums and its masters, the attraction of Europe, the possibility of creating without real constraint thanks to the scholarship, the search for greater freedom. , the desire to be elsewhere, to be in Paris as on an island. 


Musée d'Arts de Nantes 
From 12 February 2021 to 24 May 2021
Image for United States of Abstraction
Artwork(s) loaned
  • Towards Black

    Sam Francis (1923—1994)

    Towards Black 1950-53
    Ink on paper
    Michel Tapié collection, Paris
    Sam Francis, by Peter Selz, Harry N. Abrams, 1975 p.140
  • Totem

    Mark Tobey (1890—1976)

    Totem 1954
    Tempera on paper
    Jean Larcade collection, Paris
    Revue «XXè siècle» n°XII, Psychologie de la technique, 1959