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Art Students League

When he left the army after the war, he entered the Arts Students League under the GI bill while working at Sachs Furniture as a window dresser and later as a textile designer and draftsman for an architectural firm.

"Founded in 1875, the League's creation came about in response to both an anticipated gap in the program of the National Academy of Design's program of classes for that year, and to longer-term desires for more variety and flexibility in education for artists.

In the years after World War II, the G.I. Bill played an important role in the continuing history of the League by enabling returning veterans to attend classes. The League continued to be a formative influence on innovative artists, being an early stop in the careers of Abstract expressionists, Pop Artists and scores of others including Lee Bontecou, Helen Frankenthaler, Al Held, Eva Hesse, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Knox Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Cy Twombly and many others vitally active in the art world." -

While at the League, Harold primarily studied with George Grosz, Morris Kantor and Vaclav Vytlacil as well as taking classes with Julian Levi, Will Barnet, Charles Alston, and Harry Sternberg. Harold as a result of his teachers and the evolving art style in New York went from being a realist to an abstract expressionist.

Abstract Expressionism

"Abstract Expressionism is a term applied to a movement in American painting that flourished in New York City after World War II, sometimes referred to as the New York School or, more narrowly, as action painting. The varied work produced by the Abstract Expressionists resists definition as a cohesive style; instead, these artists shared an interest in using abstraction to convey strong emotional or expressive content.

Abstract Expressionism is best known for large-scale paintings that break away from traditional processes, often taking the canvas off of the easel and using unconventional materials such as house paint. While Abstract Expressionism is often considered for its advancements in painting, its ideas had deep resonance in many mediums, including drawing and sculpture." 

Abstract Expressionist Artists in New York City

Abstract Expressionism marked the beginning of New York City’s influence as the center of the Western art world. The world of the Abstract Expressionist artists was firmly rooted in Lower Manhattan. A walk along 8th Street would take you from the Waldorf Cafeteria, where penniless artists made “tomato soup” from the free hot water and ketchup; past the Hans Hofmann School of Fine artists founded by the painter of the same name; to The Club, a loft where lectures and heated arguments about art carried on late into the night. Jackson Pollock’s studio was on East 8th Street, Willem de Kooning’s and Philip Guston’s were on East 10th, and although Franz Kline moved among various homes and studios in the area, most nights found him and many of his contemporaries at the Cedar Street Tavern on University Place.

MOMA Learning -

George Grosz

"Early work, from about 1914 to 1917, shows influence of Expressionism and Futurism, as well as caricature. As member of Berlin Dada from 1918 to 1920, created mordantly satirical collages. In 1920s style became more naturalistic in caustic, caricatured studies of corrupt officers, war profiteers, exploitative industrialists, and prostitutes.

He emigrated to New York in 1933. Declared an “enemy of the state” by Nazis, who confiscated his works in German museums; some destroyed.

After his emigration to the USA in 1933, Grosz "sharply rejected [his] previous work, and caricature in general." In place of his earlier corrosive vision of the city, he now painted conventional nudes and many landscape watercolors." -

It was in his class that Harold produced a sketch book of over 50 water colors of nudes, possibly as early as 1935 when Harold first took a course with Grosz. 

Harold Anchel Nudes from Art Students Leagues

Morris Kantor

He was an instructor at the Cooper Union and also at the Art Students League of New York in the 1940s. He taught many pupils who later became famous artists in their own right, such as Knox Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, Sigmund Abeles and Susan Weil. Perhaps his most widely recognized work is the iconic painting "Baseball At Night", which depicts an early night baseball game played under artificial electric light. Although he is best known for his paintings executed in a realistic manner, over the course of his life he also spent time working in styles such as Cubism and Futurism, and produced a number of abstract or non-figural works. He taught many pupils who later became famous artists in their own right, such as Knox Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, Sigmund Abeles and Susan Weil.

It is possible his abstract style  helped Harold migrate to abstract expressionism. To the right is one of Kantor's abstract paintings.

Vaclav Vytlacil 

He was a student of Hans Hoffmann. Vaclav Vytlacil was among the earliest and most influential advocates of Hans Hoffman's teachings in the United States. Vytlacil, who first met Hofmann in Munich in 1923, had already completed his art studies and had been teaching art for five years. Vytlacil immediately grasped the significance of Hofmann's ideas. "I quickly realized," he later recalled, "that this is what I had been searching for."

His work in the 1940s and 1950s went through a transition away from the structure of form and a new fascination with how to render the energy of his subjects. Whether it was landscape, still life, or human figure, Vytlacil's work at this point took on what some might call an element of spontaneity.”

Among his students were artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Willem de Kooning, Knox Martin, Frank O'Cain, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Cy Twombly, and Tony Smith among others. To the left is one of his works from the '50's.

Will Barnet

 In 1930, Barnet studied at the Art Students League of New York, with Stuart Davis and Charles Locke, beginning his long association with the school. Here he concentrated on painting as well as printmaking, and, in 1936, he became the official printer for the Art Students League. There, he later instructed students in the graphic arts at the school 

Charles H. Alston 

American painter, sculptor, illustrator, and art instructor, one of the leading African American painters of his era, known especially for his murals. Alston became associated with the Harlem Art Workshop, where he mentored younger artists, including noted painter Jacob Lawrence. Alston taught at the Art Students League from 1950 to 1971 and at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) from 1956 to 1957, becoming the first African American to hold a teaching post at either of those institutions.

Harry Sternberg

Harry Sternberg (1904–2001), was an American painter, printmaker and educator. During the depression he was a WPA muralist. From 1934 to 1968, he taught painting and graphics at the Art Students League in New York,  Sternberg also wrote several books on graphics, including silk screening, etching and woodcutting.. 

Julian E. Levi

He was born in Yorkville, New York. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and was a member of the Federal Art Project.

He taught at the Art Students League of New York, New School, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

His work is held by the Museum of Modern Art, and the Society for Contemporary Art.

Harold Anchel Early Abstracts 

While in the Arts Students League and the rest of the 50's his closest friends and colleagues in the arts were:

Julio Girona - originally a sculptor and political cartoonist - In 1943, with the entry of the United States in World War II, inspired by the experience of the International Brigades in Spain, Girona volunteered to fight as an antifascist in the U.S. Army. He served in England, Belgium, and France for two years. After the war, benefiting from the G.I. Bill, he enrolled again at the Art Students League, where he now studied with Morris Kantor and where his life as a painter formally began. Part of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism, a member of “the Club” of New York artists on 8th Street, Girona had his first New York exhibition at the Artists’ Gallery on Lexington Avenue in 1954, and  was soon exhibiting at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery on 57th  Street. From there he went on to exhibit in major galleries in America and Europe.

Benjamin de “Brie” Taylor - He served as a fine arts instructor at a variety of institutions, such as Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design, Philadelphia College of Art, and the Herron School of Art at Indiana University. In the 1967–68 academic year, Brie taught a course at Pratt, “Form and Structure,” that informed a teaching/learning strategy known as biodesign that eventually became the book Design Lessons from Nature. In Design Lessons from Nature, Brie emphasizes the relationship between art and the natural world as a necessary component in an artist’s education. The tall man is Brie Taylor, Morris Kantor is in the middle ,and then Harold at the end of the row.

Stephen Antonakos - was a Greek born American sculptor most well known for his abstract sculptures often incorporating neon. Antonakos moved with his family from Greece to the United States at the age of 4 and was raised in the Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of Bay Ridge. He was largely working in collage in the 1960s, until he noticed Times Square’s lights at night. That moment instigated what would become the hallmark aesthetic of Anatonakos’s long career, characterized by his creation of brightly colored light installations. Works like Arrival (2008) and Neon Table #1 (1986) have a kinship with the works of Dan Flavin, and the 1960s Light and Space movement of Southern California. Antonakos also makes drawings, watercolors, and bas-relief moldings that demonstrate a similar affinity for minimal, abstract, geometric forms.

Evelyn Eller - Evelyn shared a studio with Harold and attended The Arts Student's League as well. She studied for three years on a scholarship at the Art Students League in New York City with  Morris Kantor and Will Barnet, and later in Rome, Italy on a Fulbright Fellowship. Eller has painted in acrylic and oil and created prints.  She now mainly works in paper collage and artist's books.

Sylvia Stone - At the age of twenty-two Stone married and had a child. She continued to practice art during this time, which displeased her husband's family. This ultimately led to their divorce.During this time Stone studied with Harry Sternberg, Morris Kanto, and Vyclav Vytlacil at the Arts Student League. After her divorce she had a relationship and eventually a marriage with Al Held in 1968

George Sugarman - Sugarman's prolific body of work defies a definitive style. He pioneered the concepts of pedestal-free sculpture and is best known for his large-scale, vividly painted metal sculptures. His innovative approach to art-making lent his work a fresh, experimental approach and caused him to continually expand his creative focus. 

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