Essay by Thomas B. Hess, 1960

It was in 1948 that I first met the advanced painters and sculptors who a decade later were to become famous as the “New York School”. And it was then that I was introduced to Joop Sanders and I was told that Joop was painting in a new style. Later I saw his pictures in some of the huge lively exhibitions the artists themselves organized in empty lofts and stores (no one in New York with the exception of Pollock was selling any paintings). At the time Sanders was obviously influenced by de Kooning and as it turned out this influence was the healthiest, the most open and stimulating of the moment as many of Sanders’ young colleagues can testify. They went on to discover or invent some of the most original forms of the 1950’s. Shortly thereafter Sanders went to Europe where, I heard, he was establishing a growing reputation.

Last year he returned to New York and this January held an exhibition of the new paintings and collages at the Stuttman Gallery. It is these together with some older works, which this forward accompanies to Europe. Joop Sanders left the figure once more in 1955 and returned to abstractions which relate to nature and to the cycles of growth and death, A recurring title “Buddingg Grove” comes from Proust and some of the Swans violent jealousy as well as Verdurin’s moral dilemma and Marcels infinite longing are appropriate parallels to Sanders’ green sprouting and dissolving shapes. The too solid flesh is resolved into leaf dew. Water and steam circulate; there is fluid motion and haze.

It is particularly appropriate that the Stedelijk Museum, which, under the enlightened leadership of Mr. Sandberg, has played such a crucial role in introducing advanced art in Europe, should have chosen for its exhibition of a younger American painter these eloquent works. It is also relevant that these ingratiating images of leaf and water (land and ocean), interpenetrating and substituting themselves one for the other, should be by an artist, who is both a native of Holland and New York. Holland — which is built of earth in the ocean. New York — a stone spine that breaks through the same waters 3000 miles to the wet. It is a personal pleasure to introduce my friend Joop Sanders in this way to his own family.

-Thomas B. Hess