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In 1926, after studying art in Milwaukee, Chicago and New York, Holty attended Hans Hofmann’s school in Munich and developed a special interest in Cubism. His fascination with advanced painting was heightened in 1930, when he relocated to Paris and joined the revolutionary artist’s group, Abstraction-Création. Returning to New York in 1935, Holty emerged as a major force in the modernist movement, promoting abstraction through his membership in American Abstract Artists. He continued to maintain his connection with the Midwest by making periodic visits to Wisconsin, where he disseminated the precepts of modernism through lectures given in Milwaukee.