'Al Held in his studio', 1999 Unknown photographer National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gift of Kenneth Tyler, 2002

Al Held was born in Brooklyn in 1928. After being expelled from high school he enlisted in the United States Navy and, following three years of service, left to study at the Art Students League in New York. Although primarily a painter, Held turned to working on paper at various points in his career and experimented with both drawing and printmaking to clarify and inform his work in paint.

In 1998 and 1999 he worked at Tyler Graphics on the Prime moments series, which takes as its basis geometric elements such as triangles, squares and circles placed within a grid–like structure. The lithographs recall his early explorations in geometric abstraction, where tension is created through the use of illusionistic space.
Emilie Owens


Born New York, New York, United States

Serves in the US Navy

Using GI Bill, attends Art Students League of New York; studies under Kimon Nicholaides and Robert Beverly Hale

Studies at Acad�mie de la Grande Chaumi�re, Paris, France, under Ossip Zadkine

First solo exhibition, at Galerie Huit, Paris

Moves to New York, works as carpenter

Co-founder of Brata Gallery, New York

Solo exhibition at Poindexter Gallery, New York

Included in exhibition, American Abstract Expressionists and imagists, at Solomon R Guggenehim Museum, New York

Included in exhibitions: Geometric abstraction in America, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Biennial exhibition, at Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; appointed Associate Professor of Art at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; serves in this position until 1980

Included in exhibitions: Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Toward a new abstraction, at the Jewish Museum, New York

Receives Logan Medal from the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; included in travelling exhibition, Post painterly abstraction, originating at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Solo exhibition at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; included in exhibition, Systemic paintings, at Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York; included in travelling exhibition, Two decades of American painting, organised by International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; travels to Japan; India; Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia; National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia; receives John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship

Travelling solo exhibition, originating at San Francisco Museum of Art, California

Included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Solo exhibition, Al Held, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Included in exhibition, Documenta 6, Kassel, West Germany; completes mural Order/disorder/ascension/descension at Mid-Atlantic Program Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Solo exhibition, Al Held: paintings and drawings 1973–1978, at Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

Artist in residence, American Academy in Rome, Italy; included in exhibition, Biennial exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Included in exhibition, The American artist as printmaker, at Brooklyn Museum, New York; receives Poses Creative Arts Award, Brandeis University, Wooster, Massachusetts; completes mural, Mantegna. s edge, at Southland Center, Dallas, Texas; included in travelling exhibition, Concepts in construction: 1910–1980, originating at Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas

Completes mural, Roberta. s house, at Government Building, Akron, Ohio

Included in exhibition, Contrasts of form: geometric abstract art 1910–1985, at Museum of Modern Art, New York

Included in travelling exhibition, Sightings, organised by Instituto de Estudios Norteamericanos, Barcelona, Spain; restores farmhouse as residence and studio in Todi, Umbria, Italy

Completes murals, The third circle: Pan north XII; Vorces VII, at World Trade Center, New York

Completes murals, Harry, if I told you, would you now? I-III, New York

Included in exhibition, Not for sale: loans from the private collection of New York art dealers, at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; solo exhibition at Ulrich Museum of Art, Witchita State University, Kansas

Included in exhibition, Thinking print: books to billboards 1980–1995, at Museum of Modern Art, New York

Included in exhibition, Abstract Expressionism in the United States, at Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City

Completes editions of Prime moments I-V at Tyler Graphics Ltd, Mount Kisco, New York

Al Held died in Todi, Umbria, Italy

Barbara Delano � Tyler Graphics Ltd; revised Kate Buckingham, 2006
This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017