Just after World War II, a raucous group of artists in New York City known as the “The Irascibles” wrested away from Paris the title of capitol of the art world. Many art historians have written about those first ten years of Abstract Expressionism and the creative group who have been credited as the movement’s heroes: Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, Kline, Reinhardt, Gottlieb, Hoffman, and others. But before the turn of the 21st century deeper research had gained momentum and now has shined new light on other first generation members of the group who had unfortunately remained unnoticed by art historians. Among those rediscovered masters is Matthew Troyan [1913–2007]. His best friend in the group — Franz Kline — described Troyan as one of the best colorists, if not the best, he had ever known.
Troyan’s artistic path is made even more extraordinary owing to the fact that he is the only Abstract Expressionist to have survived the Holocaust. If Jackson Pollock’s artistic drive came from deep introspection, ontological exploration, and Jungian psychology, Troyan’s horrific experiences at three Nazi concentration camps — and his consequent spiritual quest — were the wellspring of his gestural brushstrokes made even more powerful by his understanding of color.