The end of the 50's was a very productive period. Harold exhibited in 7 shows in both New York, and in Miami at The Miami Museum of Modern Art. He was chosen for the 26th Biennial Exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C.(details) (The picture exhibited is to the left.) The New York School of Abstract Expressionism was in full bloom and he could count himself as part of it. He received good reviews from the New York Times for a four man show in The Avant Garde Galleries in 1958 (details) He was now sharing a studio with three other artists and painting full time.
He, his wife and son were still living on 12th street with. Marie was by now at the School for the Blind and David, his son, was entering Music & Art as a clarinetist. It was a good time
During the 50's Harold often visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Moma and the Whitney as well as attending new shows at the 57th street galleries like Sidney Janis and Martha Jackson. These visits informed the development of his style. Early on he had been very impressed by exhibits of the works of Arshile Gorky, who appeared in group and solo shows at all of the above mentioned venues during the late 40s and early 50s, with shows at the Janis Gallery in '53 and Martha Jackson in '54. Below is an image of a painting by Arshile Gorky - Soft Night , 1947 and to the right an early abstract by Harold Anchel
In 1955 the Museum of Modern Art became the first public institution in the United States to acquire one of Monet’s large-scale water lily paintings. Harold was deeply impressed by these paintings as it appears many artist in the New York School were. Here is a quote from a recent article in Apollo magazine, 2018,
"Ever since Alfred Barr, the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, bought a Monet water lily panel in 1955 – despite his concerns that it would be too big for the museum – critics have stressed the formal and stylistic commonalities between Monet and the likes of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and their compatriots. Barr was eager to position these American artists as the natural inheritors to French modernism, and it has been said that Monet represented ‘a bridge between the naturalism of early Impressionism and the highly developed school of Abstract Art’ in New York. This school was, for a time, labelled ‘abstract impressionism’. It is largely an accident that the term did not stick, and ‘expressionist’ supplanted ‘impressionist’." It is probably not a coincidence that as the 50's ended Harold's paintings became more lyrical and dreamy. Below is the triptych by Monet and then three paintings by Anchel during that time.
In the 60's Harold began to lighten his style leading to even more abstraction.
By the end of the 60's he began to work in a more geometric style but still with great subtlety of color.
Harold Anchel's painting in the 70's:
His acquaintance, Al Held, had moved in a similar direction as well. First as you can see below Held had moved from 2 dimensional hard edge to 3 dimensional
Harold painted through most of the '70s. By that time he and Marie were living in an apartment on 23rd street and 1st Avenue. He would go to his studio, now on 22nd street between Broadway and Park, every day, but his output decreased as his health declined. In 1976 he had his first bout with pneumonia and emphysema. Years of smoking two packs a day of unfiltered cigarettes had taken a toll. In addition, just at that time that the dangers of paint and the chemicals associated with painting were becoming known. Strong recommendations were issued for safety in work spaces. However, it was too late as he had spent most of his adult life for most of the day with paint and these chemicals in small, poorly ventilated, enclosed spaces. His emphysema became worse, leading to a 3 month episode where he had to be on a ventilator. Finally, in 1980, on April 1st, at the age of 67 he contracted pneumonia, was taken to the hospital and died that night from a heart attack as the stress on his body was too great. He was cremated, memorialized by friends and family and eventually his ashes were buried in the woods in Connecticut on the property of one of his former studio mates, Gloria Helfgott.
His son hung the picture to the left at the memorial, as he always thought it might be a self portrait.