Abstract Expressionism

For the first half of the century, American Art was little but following Europe’s trends, until a realist school, Aschan, (Georgia O Keefe, Arthur Dove, and Charles Demuth) radicalised painting where once it had been thought it had evolved over. It was these above artists and many artists travelling from Europe due to running from the war who set up the foundations for a new era to begin, the era of American Abstract Expressionism. Mark Rothko, Berny Newman, Pollock. Two seperate ways that art took, one the continuation of European painters and the second the American Painters finest hour. Although it split in two ways both sets of artists wanted to give off the image of America.

Edward Hopper hit the nail on the head with his theatrical and dramticin5230hopper20nhks1 scenes which could be easily stills from a movie. This image, although not totally realistic, attracted even more artists to the scene. there was a boom in the arts life in America, in 1929 the museum of Modern Art MOMA opened, and in 1930s the federal Arts Project which involved de Kooning, Pollock, Baziotes and Gorky. This younger generation of artists where inspired greatly,  even in awe, of what the masters had done. They addressed the same kind of questions the masters did but in a more domestic

Then a term came upon the group of artists, Abstract Expressionism, “in which the content of the work of art was to have no relation to the motif” The artists worked towards a set of patterns and language which communicated the emotions that had been overlooked in European modern art.

Pollock was a pioneer of sorts with his action painting dripping paint onto a canvas in a rhytmic motion.

This whole scenario made America extremely happy, as it had a way in which to get into the modern art books, and Abstract Expressionism was so popular it took pop art to finally end it in the late fifties.

jackson_pollock_21Jackson Pollock – drip paintings, end of forties beginning of 1950s, dances with paint, visual jazz and creates very movement orientated paintings. subconscious mind, in ways a develoopment of surrealist. Similar to Monet’s paintings, focussed into the ponds and got rid of the horizon line, Rothko makes odes to Monet’s works, all about colour and light but more abstract.

Abstract expressionism could have easily have been abstract impressionism.

A sculpture made of lead, Jean Fautrier, the hostage series inspired by his incarciration by the nazis in a sanitorium. The undertone of violence is picked up on in Jean Debuffet’s work. traditional ways of painting became redundant and homme20qui20marche-20giacometti1got graffitit art and childrens work. spatula painting and knife the paint to scratch them out, violence.

Giacommetti, creates work with post war theme, sculptures are very skeletal, violence of removal is reflected in surface, isolation is also given off by the thinness of the character and its position to other objects, as a curator I would place this far away from other artworks to amplify this, I know thats not the point of this contextual project but THATS WHATT I’D DO!

The Rothko section of the Tate Modern, AMAZING, he pays homage to t01031_911michaelangelo, pulsate with life, are liberating, they work as environments themselves giving the impression of buildings just like the surrealist painters before them had.

Similar to modern painters, painting is now reinvigorated, Dumas, photography used heavily in newer stuff. Luc Tuymans, uses his work to announce sickness, loss etc. Gary Hume, Incubus, painting of doors with gloss and makes it as realistic as possible.


Author: gordondouglas

Performance artist and curator based in Glasgow, Scotland.

3 thoughts on “Abstract Expressionism”

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