(American, 1928–2005) was a leading artist working with Hard-edge Abstraction, drawing from traditions spanning Abstract Expressionism to Cubism. Born in New York, Held studied at the Art Students League, and, in 1949, went to Paris to study art at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière under sculptor Ossip Zadkine
. When Held returned to New York, his work began to reflect his interactions with the gestural paintings of Abstract Expressionist artists, as he used more animated brushstrokes and muted colors. Later, he began painting works somewhat in reaction to this aesthetic, using bold lines, colors, and stark geometric shapes in large, commanding pieces that associated him with a group of Abstract Expressionists using Hard-edge Abstraction. Held’s works from this period also feature interlocking letters of the alphabet in complex, structured compositions, many of which were in black and white. He received great acclaim for this work, and, in the late 1960s, began creating compositions with interwoven solids and planes, often resembling molecular or planetary forms, which create a receding depth into the painting itself.
In the 1980s, he settled in Italy, and his pieces increasingly featured curved lines, arabesques, and other forms reflecting the influence of the country’s Renaissance and Baroque architecture on his work. Held was a professor of art at Yale University from 1962 to 1980, and, toward the end of his life, painted large murals, such as a mural commission for the New York City subway system. His work has been exhibited at institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Steledjik Museum in Amsterdam, and galleries in Zurich, Berlin, and other cities throughout the world. He died in 2005 at his home in Italy.