Art: The Tribal Style

Ab Ex at the Whitney Museum

As the first "grand" American style, mature abstract expressionism (painted from about 1950 onward) has been studied and shown almost to exhaustion. Shaped into an institution by the growing system of critics, dealers, curators and Government cultural agencies, the once fragile and isolated-looking works of Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, Gorky and their peers became the emblems of a cultural empire: no style or movement since surrealism was diffused so fast, or imposed itself as completely on painters around the world. But the earlier work of these artists,...

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