First published: Fall 2003
To well-informed admirers of American Abstract Expressionism, Janet Sobel (1894–1968) is a footnote – an anomalous, noteworthy footnote, to be sure – to the familiar history of painting in the era following the Second World War. To Outsider Art aficionados, Janet Sobel is still coming into focus: she is gradually finding her place in that other art history, of important achievements by innovative, self-taught artists of the 20th century.
In recent years, revisionist art historians have made a more considered, critical assessment of Sobel’s main claim to fame – the fact that this shy, chubby, Jewish-immigrant housewife from Brooklyn who started making art in 1937, at the age of 43, developed a drip-painting technique years before Jackson Pollock made headlines with his dripped ‘action paintings.’ Also at issue: whether or not Sobel’s art actually influenced ‘Jack the Dripper,’ as TIME magazine called New York Abstract Expressionism’s leading figure, the booze-soaked creator of some of Modernism’s most emblematic images.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #44