An important figure in the second generation of the Abstract Expressionists, Al Held sought a classical order for his work from its first appearance in the 1950s. As his painting became less gestural in the 1960s he adopted a spatial illusionism that became more pronounced after 1968.
Throughout the 1970s he worked exclusively in black and white, developing a complex repertoire of interlocking geometric forms. Taking up color again in 1978, he has produced a body of work that infuses Renaissance values with a New York School sensibility. Uncompromisingly abstract and often achieved on a large scale, his work constitutes one of the most significant advances in postwar American art.