"In 1940, with Paris sealed off from the world by the German army...American artists faced a crisis: what to do, where to go, even how to begin, were put into question...A tradition of Western art seemed to have ended, and with the disappearance of its imperatives there also came a sense of joyful release. The whole past suddenly was available, open to radical reinterpretation and re-use. Mondrian and Bonnard seemed more relevant that Picasso or Braque. Courbet, Monet, Seurat, Pissarro appeared as new artists. Almost anything could seem new: a study of myths and the unconscious, a revival of monumental scale, geometry, anarchy, even art for Art's sake."
Thomas B. Hess in Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art (and traveling), Willem de Kooning, 1968, pp. 44-45