The New York School vs. the School of Paris: Who Really Made the Most Important Art After World War II?
NBER Working Paper No. 9149
American historians of modern art routinely assume that after World War II New York replaced Paris as the center of the western art world. An analysis of the illustrations in French textbooks shows that French art scholars disagree: they rate Jean Dubuffet as the most important painter of the era, ahead of Jackson Pollock, and they consider Yves Klein's anthropometries of 1960 as the greatest contribution of a single year, in front of Andy Warhol's innovations in Pop Art. Yet the French texts also show that the French artists' practices and conceptions of art paralleled those of the Americans. Thus while French and American scholars disagree over the relative importance of their nations' artists, there is no disagreement that the most important art of the 1950s was produced by experimental seekers, and that of the 60s by conceptual finders.