Phillip Pavia is one of the founding fathers of American Abstract Expressionism, yet known to few who are familiar with this genre of American art. Pavia is credited with being the creator and financier of the artist meeting group “The Club”, in 1949. The Club members eventually included all, or nearly all of the New York School artists, painters and sculptors. The so-called “Irascibles” , who boycotted an upcoming "monster exhibition" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art because of the jury's rejection of "advanced art." This action and controversy led to a group photo of the artists for Life Magazine in 1950.


As Abstract Expressionism developed, The Club membership also extended to numerous forms of it, including action painting, color field, lyrical abstraction, tachisme, Nuagisme and extended other forms. Some of the more notable members of The Club were Willem De Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Isamu Noguchi and Ibram Lassaw.


When discussing American art, one cannot overlook the influences of the Abstract Expressionist movement, particularly the New York School, the generation of artists who were from, or came to New York to explore the process of creating something new, fresh, abstract. The Club, for the original New York School, was their weekly lesson, with featured organized panels, lively discussions, and a chance to exhibit their own art when few others would show them. These artists, household names today, at the time were no different than Pavia, they were passionate, creative, and unique, except that while the others grew in their art careers, Pavia focused on bringing them together and exploring the expressionist movement as a whole.


In 1955 Pavia left The Club and started a newsletter entitled “It Is”. He set up a series of lectures which included artistic luminaries from many fields. Amongst those who participated were Thomas Hess, Harold Rosenberg, Hannah Arendt, James Campbell, Sydney Janis, E.E. Cummings and John Cage.


It's difficult to convey the energy and free thinking of the intellectual ferment in New York City during the late 1940’s and 1950’s and Pavia was at the center of it. For the rest of his life, Pavia created sculpture and exhibited his work in one person and group shows in New York City. Toward the end of his life, he was recognized by art historians as one of the important founders of abstract expressionism. Pavia died in New York at the age of 94.


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