The Age of Abstraction, if it truly happened, didn’t last long. As Reaves and Fortune note, Larry Rivers started painting figuratively in the early 1950s, less than a decade into the period the show covers. The pop artists he inspired were only a few years behind him, followed by Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Philip Pearlstein and many more.
Even before that, though, well-regarded artists resisted the labels — “abstract expressionist,” “action painter” — devised for them. Willem de Kooning, whose 1954 “Marilyn Monroe” reduces the actress to lips, eyes and hair, didn’t do a lot of portraits. But his expressionism was never purely abstract.
Amusingly, the work of the most famous theorists of post-war abstraction are both hanging here, painted more realistically than de Kooning’s Marilyn. Clement Greenberg is depicted, loosely but recognizably, in a 1955 piece by René Robert Bouché. In a portrait made the next year, Harold Rosenberg seems to
Article source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/museums/gallery-showcases-the-abstract-and-the-recognizable-of-portraitures-second-wind/2014/05/14/81d49a8e-c977-11e3-b81a-6fff56bc591e_story.html