SISSIES were second-class citizens in mid-20th-century American culture. And art was a he-man’s game: booze, broads, Sasquatch manners, the whole nine yards. Sure, a little sensitivity was O.K., as long as you didn’t get carried away. It’s as if there was a sign at the Cedar Bar door: Girlie-men need not apply.
Except this picture isn’t quite right. Look at the art. De Kooning painted the way Tamara Toumanova danced, with a diva’s plush bravura. Pollock interwove strands of pigment as if he were making lace. The sculptor David Smith, the biggest palooka of the Abstract Expressionist crowd, floated lines of welded steel in space the way Eleanor Steber sang Mozart’s notes, with an unbaroque fineness, an American-style delicacy.
more from Holland Cotter at the NY TImes here.