|Years active||Beginning in the 1930s, reaching a height in the 1950s-1960s, but with practitioners still working in the style today|
|Major figures||Artists Max Weber, Marsden Hartley, Milton Avery, Edwin Dickinson|
|Influences||German Expressionism is the most direct influence, but representational painting has roots in Old Master and history painting|
New York Figurative Expressionism is a visual arts movement and a branch of American Figurative Expressionism. Though the movement dates to the 1930s, it was not formally classified as "figurative expressionism" until the term arose as a counter-distinction to the New York-based postwar movement known as Abstract Expressionism. 
Commenters like Museum of Contemporary Art of Detroit (MOCAD) curator Klaus Kertess observed that "[o]n the eve of the new abstraction's purge of figuration and its rise to all-encompassing prominence, the figure began to acquire a new and forceful vigor,"  elsewhere explaining that "[d]uring the late forties and early fifties," figurative work was associated with a conservatism abstractionists sought to avoid. Their response was defensive, and "prone to blur the vast distinctions between figurative painters and to exaggerate the difference between the figurative and the nonfigurative. It was not until the late sixties and early seventies that the figure was permitted to return from exile and even to make claims to centrality."  But that was not true of all abstract expressionists. Willem de Kooning (1904–1997) and Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), for example, started incorporating figurative elements far sooner.  They, along with abstract expressionist Conrad Marca-Relli (1913–2000) among others, built upon the figure as a framework for expanding their otherwise abstract canvases. 
Early New York figurative expressionists included Max Weber (1881–1961) and Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), known for their work with myth and spirituality. Other early practitioners spanned the lyrical restraint of Milton Avery (1885–1965) and the clear, direct work of Edwin Dickinson (1891–1978).
The use of the figure was influenced by Old Master and history painting for some of the New York Expressionists, notably Larry Rivers (1923–2002) and Grace Hartigan (1922–). For many others, the figure served as the logical subject of representational portraiture: Elaine de Kooning (1918–1989); Balcomb Greene, (1904–1990); Robert De Niro, Sr. (1920–1993); Fairfield Porter, (1907–1975); Gregorio Prestopino (1907–1984); Lester Johnson (1919–2010); George McNeil (1909–1995); Henry Gorski (1918–2010); Robert Goodnough (1917–); and Earle M. Pilgrim (1923–1976).
The figure also served as a stylistic element reminiscent of the German Expressionists, but with the heroic scale of the Abstract Expressionists for many of those with allegorical or mythical interests. Artists in this category included: Jan Müller, (1922–1958); Robert Beauchamp, (1923–1995); Nicholas Marsicano, (1914–1991); Bob Thompson, (1937–1966); Ezio Martinelli, (1913–1980) Irving Kriesberg, (1919–2009). 
"During the war years and into the 1950s," Judith E. Stein writes, "the general public was to remain highly suspicious of abstraction, which many considered un-American. While the art critic Clement Greenberg successfully challenged the public's negative response to abstraction, his attempt to communicate to the New York figurative painters of the fifties was less successful."  A conversation recollected by Thomas B. Hess emphasized the perceived power of the critic:"It is impossible today to paint a face, pontificated the critic Clement Greenberg around 1950. "That's right," said de Kooning, "and it's impossible not to." 
In 1953, the journal Reality was founded "to rise to the defense of any painter's right to paint any ways he wants."  Backing this mission statement was an editorial committee that included Isabel Bishop (1902–1988), Edward Hopper (1882–1967), Jack Levine (1915–2010), Raphael Soyer (1899–1987) and Henry Varnum Poor (1888–1970).
The sculptor Philip Pavia became "partisan publisher" of It is. A Magazine for Abstract Art that he founded in 1958. In an open letter to Leslie Katz, the new publisher of Arts Magazine , he wrote: "I am begging you to give the representational artist a better deal. The neglected representational and near-abstract artists, not the abstractionists, need a champion these days." 
Although none of these figurative advocates had the stature of critics like Clement Greenberg or Harold Rosenberg, they were recognized by critics as radicals, "represent[ing] a new generation to whom figurative art was in a sense more revolutionary than abstraction." 
The literary historian Marjorie Perloff has made a convincing argument that Frank O'Hara's poems on the works of Garace Hartigan and Larry Rivers proved "that he was really more at home with painting that retains at least some figuration than with pure abstraction."  Frank O'Hara wrote an elegant defense in "Nature and New Painting," 1954, listing Grace Hartigan (1922–2008), Larry Rivers (1923–2002), Elaine de Kooning (1918–1989), Jane Freilicher (1924–), Robert De Niro, Sr. (1922–1993), Felix Pasilis (1922–), Wolf Kahn (1927–) and Marcia Marcus (1928–) as artists who responded to "the siren-like call of nature."  O'Hara aligned the New York Figurative Expressionists within abstract expressionism, which had always taken a strong position against an implied protocol, "whether at the Metropolitan Museum or the Artists Club." Thomas B. Hess wrote: "[T]he 'New figurative painting' which some have been expecting as a reaction against Abstract Expressionism was implicit in it at the start, and is one of its most lineal continuities." 
Expressionism is a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Northern Europe around the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists have sought to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality.
Abstract expressionism is a post–World War II art movement in American painting, developed in New York City in the 1940s. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve international influence and put New York at the center of the Western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris. Although the term "abstract expressionism" was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates, it had been first used in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturm, regarding German Expressionism. In the United States, Alfred Barr was the first to use this term in 1929 in relation to works by Wassily Kandinsky.
Abstract art uses visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an attempt to reproduce an illusion of visible reality. By the end of the 19th century many artists felt a need to create a new kind of art which would encompass the fundamental changes taking place in technology, science and philosophy. The sources from which individual artists drew their theoretical arguments were diverse, and reflected the social and intellectual preoccupations in all areas of Western culture at that time.
Action painting, sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied. The resulting work often emphasizes the physical act of painting itself as an essential aspect of the finished work or concern of its artist.
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist. He was born in Rotterdam and moved to the United States in 1926, becoming an American citizen in 1962. In 1943, he married painter Elaine Fried.
Richard Diebenkorn was an American painter and printmaker. His early work is associated with abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In the late 1960s he began his extensive series of geometric, lyrical abstract paintings. Known as the Ocean Park paintings, these paintings were instrumental to his achievement of worldwide acclaim.
Elaine Marie Catherine de Kooning was an Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist painter in the post-World War II era. She wrote extensively on the art of the period and was an editorial associate for Art News magazine.
Abstract Imagists is a term derived from a 1961 exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum, New York called American Abstract Expressionists and Imagists. This exhibition was the first in the series of programs for the investigation of tendencies in American and European painting and sculpture.
Color field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to abstract expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering abstract expressionists. Color field is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color spread across or stained into the canvas creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. The movement places less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favor of an overall consistency of form and process. In color field painting "color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself."
[The] 9th Street Art Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture is the official title artist Franz Kline hand-lettered onto the poster he designed for the Ninth Street Show. Now considered historic, the artist-led exhibition marked the formal debut of Abstract Expressionism, and the first American art movement with international influence. The School of Paris, long the headquarters of the global art market, typically launched new movements, so there was both financial and cultural fall-out when all the excitement was suddenly emanating from New York. The post-war New York avant-garde, artists like Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, would soon become "art stars," commanding large sums and international attention. The Ninth Street Show marked their "stepping-out," and that of nearly 75 other artists, including Harry Jackson, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan, Robert De Niro Sr., Philip Guston, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Ad Reinhardt, David Smith, Milton Resnick, Joop Sanders, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman and many others who were then mostly unknown to an art establishment that ignored experimental art without a ready market.
Jan Müller was a New York-based figurative expressionist artist of the 1950s. According to art critic Carter Ratcliff, "His paintings usually erect a visual architecture sturdy enough to support an array of standing, riding, levitating figures. Gravity is absent, banished by an indifference to ordinary experience." According to the poet John Ashbery, Müller "brings a medieval sensibility to neo-Expressionist paintings."
Michael Goldberg was an American abstract expressionist painter and teacher known for his gestural action paintings, abstractions and still-life paintings. A retrospective show, "Abstraction Over Time: The Paintings of Michael Goldberg", was shown at MOCA Jacksonville in Florida from 9/21/13 to 1/5/14. His work was seen in September 2007 in a solo exhibition at Knoedler & Company in New York City, as well as several exhibitions at Manny Silverman Gallery in Los Angeles. Additionally, a survey of Goldberg's work is exhibited at the University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach since September 2010.
20th-century Western painting begins with the heritage of late-19th-century painters Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others who were essential for the development of modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century, Henri Matisse and several other young artists including the pre-cubist Georges Braque, André Derain, Raoul Dufy and Maurice de Vlaminck, revolutionized the Paris art world with "wild", multi-colored, expressive landscapes and figure paintings that the critics called Fauvism. Matisse's second version of The Dance signified a key point in his career and in the development of modern painting. It reflected Matisse's incipient fascination with primitive art: the intense warm color of the figures against the cool blue-green background and the rhythmical succession of the dancing nudes convey the feelings of emotional liberation and hedonism.
American Figurative Expressionism is a 20th-century visual art style or movement that first took hold in Boston, and later spread throughout the United States. Critics dating back to the origins of Expressionism have often found it hard to define. One description, however, classifies it as a Humanist philosophy, since it's human-centered and rationalist. Its formal approach to the handling of paint and space is often considered a defining feature, too, as is its radical, rather than reactionary, commitment to the figure.
Alfred Leslie is an American artist and filmmaker. He first achieved success as an Abstract Expressionist painter, but changed course in the early 1960s and became a painter of realistic figurative paintings.
Grace Hartigan was an American Abstract Expressionist painter and a significant member of the vibrant New York School of the 1950s and 1960s. Her circle of friends, who frequently inspired one another in their artistic endeavors, included Jackson Pollock, Larry Rivers, Helen Frankenthaler, Willem and Elaine de Kooning and Frank O'Hara. Her paintings are held by numerous major institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. As director of the Maryland Institute College of Art's Hoffberger School of Painting, she influenced numerous young artists.
Lester Johnson was an American artist and educator. Johnson was a member of the Second Generation of the New York School during the late 1950s. The subject of much of his work is the human figure. His style is considered by critics and art historians to be in the figurative expressionist mode.
Judith E. Stein is a Philadelphia-based art historian and curator, whose academic career has focused on the postwar New York art world. She has written a biography of the art dealer Richard Bellamy, as well as feature articles regarding artists including Jo Baer, Red Grooms, Lester Johnson, Alfred Leslie and Jay Milder.
George McNeil was an American abstract expressionist painter.
In 1953, Woman, a series of abstract works of art painted by Willem de Kooning, shocked the public who visited de Kooning’s third one-man show at the Sidney Janis Gallery in Manhattan. The last painting of this series, Woman VI, is displayed at the Carnegie Museum of Art as part of the Postwar Abstraction collection since the 1955 Carnegie International Exhibition. Willem de Kooning is a pioneer of abstract expressionism in America. This painting is a good example of contemporary art’s transition from European traditional painting to abstract expressionism; Woman is considered de Kooning’s most famous series because it is significant to postwar history and social events, such as the American Feminist Movement in 1960s; de Kooning has a ventured impact on the issue of the representation of woman during 1950s through the abstract form; and, above all, Woman VI is an irreplaceable work of art for the Postwar Abstraction collection not only for its abstract form and brushwork techniques but because it still has the ability to create multiple interpretations with each viewing.