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Jackson Pollock abstract expressionist painting Autumn Rhythm

Abstract Expressionism

What is it?

Abstract Expressionism is a modern art movement that flowered in America after the Second World War and held sway until the dawn of Pop Art in the 1960's. With this movement New York replaced Paris as the center of the art world.

Jackson Pollock "Autumn Rhythm"

Where did it start?

Abstract Expressionism has its roots in other earlier 20th century art movements such as Cubism and Surrealism that promoted abstraction rather than representation. The psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung provided the intellectual context in this quest for new subject matter.

Willem de Kooning abstract expressionist painting Woman IV

Who were the major artists in this movement?

The major players in Abstract Expression were:
Jackson Pollock,
Willem de Kooning,
Clyfford Still, Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell,
Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Philip Guston,
Lee Krasner, Ad Reinhardt and sculptor David Smith.

These artists formed what is known as The New York School. Some were Americans by birth, but others came from Europe to the United States as a result of pre-war & wartime upheavals.

Willem de Kooning "Woman IV"

What were these artists trying to achieve?

The Abstract Expressionists' goal was a raw and impulsive art. What mattered were the qualities of the paint itself and the act of painting itself.

As American poet-critic Harold Rosenberg said in a famous Art News article of 1952:
"...the canvas was not a picture, but an event."
--guest editor Margaret Morse

Masquerade abstract painting Lynne Frehm

See how Abstract Expressionism continues to influence contemporary art in the work of New York abstract painters:
Lynne Frehm, Richard Mock, James Burnett and Charlie Hewitt Biddington's Abstract Art Gallery

Lynne Frehm "Masquerade"

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