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." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Students_League_of_New_York
While at the League, Harold studied with George Grosz, Morris Kantor and Vaclav Vytlacil. 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 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 - https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/abstract-expressionism/
"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." - https://www.moma.org/s/ge/collection_ge/artist/artist_id-2374.html
It was probably in his class that Harold produced a sketch book of over 50 water colors of nudes.
Harold Anchel Nudes from Art Students Leagues
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.
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.
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: