Raymond Spillenger was a member of the high-octane assemblage of highly-talented and charismatic artists known collectively as the New School. Their era was the 1950s and 1960s. They lived and worked in the neighborhood of East 10th Street and Fourth Avenue in New York. The stars were Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Philip Guston, Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock – a hard-drinking Bohemian crowd if ever there was. It was Picasso’s Montmartre transplanted to New York. Spillinger, however, felt out of his depth and was overwhelmed by this maelstrom of talent. What made things even worse was that he had no commercial ambitions. Eventually he became bitter, stopped showing his work and ceased painting altogether. In the 1990s he began again. No longer pressured to work in any particular style he came into his own with free-flowing abstractions displaying a hint of figuratism. He died last November. In cleaning out his studio his sons found a cache from this later period which has stirred up interest in the art market. Spillinger is finally on the verge of being noticed.
Robert Rauschenberg was another artist whose haunt was the East Village. But he looked further afield than Abstract Expressionism of the New School in which Spillinger felt trapped. Like them Rauschenberg was curious about how to use the electronic equipment that had become readily available but unsure how. Luckily a very different sort of scientist was in their circle called Billy Klüver, an electrical engineer from Bell Labs. He knew his way around the art community and helped them incorporate electronics into their art. This set the stage for collaborations between artists and scientists which have taken off in the twenty-first century. Unfortunately Spillenger missed out on this opportunity too which might have enabled him to work in a style of his own half a century ago.
See The New York Times: Raymond Spillenger of the New York School Gets Noticed and Chapter 2 of Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art.