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Abstract expressionism

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Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 art movement
Art movement
An art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time, or, at least, with the heyday of the movement defined within a number of years...

. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world
Art world
The art world is composed of all the people involved in the production, commission, preservation, promotion, criticism, and sale of art. Howard S. Becker describes it as "the network of people whose cooperative activity, organized via their joint knowledge of conventional means of doing things,...

, a role formerly filled by Paris. Although the term "abstract expressionism" was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates
Robert Coates (critic)
Robert Myron Coates was an American writer and a long-term art critic for the New Yorker. He coined the term "abstract expressionism" in 1946 in reference to the works of Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.As a writer of fiction, he is considered a member of the Lost Generation,...

, it had been first used in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturm
Der Sturm
Der Sturm was a magazine covering the expressionism movement founded in Berlin in 1910 by Herwarth Walden. It ran weekly until monthly in 1914, and became a quarterly in 1924 until it ceased publication in 1932....

, regarding German Expressionism
German Expressionism
German Expressionism refers to a number of related creative movements beginning in Germany before the First World War that reached a peak in Berlin, during the 1920s...

. In the USA, Alfred Barr
Alfred Barr
Alfred Hamilton Barr, Jr. , known as Alfred H. Barr, Jr., was an American art historian and the first director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City...

 was the first to use this term in 1929 in relation to works by Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

.

The movement's name is derived from the combination of the emotional intensity and self-denial of the German Expressionists
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European abstract schools such as Futurism
Futurism (art)
Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized and glorified themes associated with contemporary concepts of the future, including speed, technology, youth and violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane and the industrial city...

, the Bauhaus
Bauhaus
', commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term stood for "School of Building".The Bauhaus school was founded by...

 and Synthetic Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

. Additionally, it has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, nihilistic.

Style



Technically, an important predecessor is surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

, with its emphasis on spontaneous, automatic
Surrealist automatism
Automatism has taken on many forms: the automatic writing and drawing initially practiced by surrealists can be compared to similar, or perhaps parallel phenomena, such as the non-idiomatic improvisation of free jazz....

 or subconscious creation. Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Paul Jackson Pollock , known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and...

's dripping paint onto a canvas laid on the floor is a technique that has its roots in the work of André Masson
André Masson
André-Aimé-René Masson was a French artist.-Biography:Masson was born in Balagny-sur-Thérain, Oise, but was brought up in Belgium. He began his study of art at the age of eleven in Brussels, at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts under the guidance of Constant Montald, and later he studied in Paris...

, Max Ernst
Max Ernst
Max Ernst was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism.-Early life:...

 and David Alfaro Siqueiros
David Alfaro Siqueiros
José David Alfaro Siqueiros was a social realist painter, known for his large murals in fresco that helped establish the Mexican Mural Renaissance, together with works by Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, and also a member of the Mexican Communist Party who participated in an...

. Another important early manifestation of what came to be abstract expressionism is the work of American Northwest artist Mark Tobey
Mark Tobey
Mark George Tobey was an American abstract expressionist painter, born in Centerville, Wisconsin. Widely recognized throughout the United States and Europe, Tobey is the most noted among the "mystical painters of the Northwest." Senior in age and experience, Tobey had a strong influence on the...

, especially his "white writing" canvases, which, though generally not large in scale, anticipate the "all-over"
All-over painting
All-over painting refers to the non-differential treatment of the surface of a work of two-dimensional art, for instance a painting. This concept is most popularly thought of as emerging in relation to the so-called "drip" paintings of Jackson Pollock and the "automatic writing" or "abstract...

 look of Pollock's drip paintings.

The movement's name is derived from the combination of the emotional intensity and self-denial of the German Expressionists
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European abstract schools such as Futurism
Futurism (art)
Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized and glorified themes associated with contemporary concepts of the future, including speed, technology, youth and violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane and the industrial city...

, the Bauhaus
Bauhaus
', commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term stood for "School of Building".The Bauhaus school was founded by...

 and Synthetic Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

. Additionally, it has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, nihilistic. In practice, the term is applied to any number of artists working (mostly) in New York who had quite different styles and even to work that is neither especially abstract nor expressionist. California Abstract Expressionist Jay Meuser
Jay Meuser
Jay Meuser was an American abstract expressionist painter. Meuser's style was versatile and his works prolific, in his lifetime he worked as an illustrator, portrait painter and cartoonist for several newspaper editorial pages.-Biography:He married Dorothy Ellen Morris in 1938...

, who typically painted in the non-objective style, wrote about his painting Mare Nostrum, "It is far better to capture the glorious spirit of the sea than to paint all of its tiny ripples." Pollock's energetic "action painting
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

s", with their "busy" feel, are different, both technically and aesthetically, from the violent and grotesque Women series of Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

's figurative paintings
Figurative art
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and sculptures—which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.-Definition:...

 and the rectangles of color in Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

's Color Field
Color Field
Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists...

 paintings (which are not what would usually be called expressionist and which Rothko denied were abstract). Yet all four artists are classified as abstract expressionists.

Abstract expressionism has many stylistic similarities to the Russian artists of the early twentieth century such as Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

. Although it is true that spontaneity or the impression of spontaneity characterized many of the abstract expressionists works, most of these paintings involved careful planning, especially since their large size demanded it. With artists like Paul Klee
Paul Klee
Paul Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered both a German and a Swiss painter. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism...

, Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

, Emma Kunz, and later on Rothko, Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

, John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin (artist)
John Dwyer McLaughlin was an American abstract painter. Based primarily in California, he was a pioneer in minimalist and hard-edge painting.-Life:...

, and Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
Agnes Bernice Martin was an American abstract painter, often referred to as a minimalist; Martin considered herself an abstract expressionist.She won a National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1998....

, abstract art clearly implied expression of ideas concerning the spiritual, the unconscious and the mind.

Why this style gained mainstream acceptance in the 1950s is a matter of debate. American social realism
Social realism
Social Realism, also known as Socio-Realism, is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts social and racial injustice, economic hardship, through unvarnished pictures of life's struggles; often depicting working class activities as heroic...

 had been the mainstream in the 1930s. It had been influenced not only by the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 but also by the muralists
Mexican Muralism
Mexican muralism is a Mexican art movement. The most important period of this movement took place primarily from the 1920s to the 1960s, though it exerted an influence on later generations of Mexican artists...

 of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 such as David Alfaro Siqueiros
David Alfaro Siqueiros
José David Alfaro Siqueiros was a social realist painter, known for his large murals in fresco that helped establish the Mexican Mural Renaissance, together with works by Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, and also a member of the Mexican Communist Party who participated in an...

 and Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera
Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo . His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in...

. The political climate after World War II did not long tolerate the social protests of these painters. Abstract expressionism arose during World War II and began to be showcased during the early forties at galleries in New York like The Art of This Century Gallery
The Art of This Century Gallery
The Art of This Century gallery was opened by Peggy Guggenheim at 30 W. 57th Street in New York City on October 20, 1942. The gallery occupied two commercial spaces on the seventh floor of a building that was part of the midtown arts district including the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of...

. The McCarthy era after World War II was a time of artistic censorship
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 in the United States, but if the subject matter were totally abstract
Abstract art
Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an...

 then it would be seen as apolitical, and therefore safe. Or if the art was political, the message was largely for the insiders.

While the movement is closely associated with painting, and painters like Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky was an Armenian-born American painter who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. As such, his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian genocide.-Early life:...

, Franz Kline
Franz Kline
Franz Jozef Kline was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement centered around New York in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and attended Girard College, an academy in Philadelphia for fatherless boys...

, Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still was an American painter, and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.-Biography:...

, Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann was a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.-Biography:Hofmann was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. When he was six he moved with his family to Munich...

, Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

, Jackson Pollock and others, collagist
Collage
A collage is a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole....

 Anne Ryan
Anne Ryan
Anne Ryan belonged to the early generation of New York School Abstract Expressionist artists. Her first contact with the New York Avant-garde came in 1941 when she joined the Atelier 17, a famous printmaking workshop that the British artist Stanley William Hayter had established in Paris in the...

 and sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 and certain sculptors in particular were also integral to Abstract Expressionism. David Smith
David Smith (sculptor)
David Roland Smith was an American Abstract Expressionist sculptor and painter, best known for creating large steel abstract geometric sculptures.-Biography:...

, and his wife Dorothy Dehner
Dorothy Dehner
-Biography:She grew up in Cleveland.In 1918, she took classes at the Pasadena Playhouse, and studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.In 1922, she moved to New York City, and studied at the Art Students League....

, Herbert Ferber
Herbert Ferber
Herbert Ferber was an American sculptor and painter, born in New York City. He began his independent artistic studies in New York in 1926 at evening classes at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, while attending Columbia University Dental School...

, Isamu Noguchi
Isamu Noguchi
was a prominent Japanese American artist and landscape architect whose artistic career spanned six decades, from the 1920s onward. Known for his sculpture and public works, Noguchi also designed stage sets for various Martha Graham productions, and several mass-produced lamps and furniture pieces,...

, Ibram Lassaw
Ibram Lassaw
Ibram Lassaw is an American sculptor, known for nonobjective construction in brazed metals.-Biography:Lassaw was born in Alexandria, Egypt, of Russian émigré parents, he went to the U.S. in 1921. His family settled in Brooklyn, New York. He became a US citizen in 1928...

, Theodore Roszak
Theodore Roszak (artist)
Theodore Roszak was an American sculptor and painter. He was born in Posen, Prussia , now Poznań, Poland, as a son of Polish parents, and emigrated to the United States at the age of two...

, Phillip Pavia, Mary Callery
Mary Callery
Mary Callery was an American artist known for her Modern and Abstract Expressionist sculpture. She was part of the New York School art movement of the 1940s, '50s and '60s....

, Richard Stankiewicz, Louise Bourgeois
Louise Bourgeois
Louise Joséphine Bourgeois , was a renowned French-American artist and sculptor, best known for her contributions to both modern and contemporary art, and for her spider structures, titled Maman, which resulted in her being nicknamed the Spiderwoman...

, and Louise Nevelson in particular were some of the sculptors considered as being important members of the movement. In addition, the artists David Hare
David Hare (artist)
David Hare was an American artist, associated with the Surrealist movement. He is primarily known for his sculpture, though he also worked extensively in photography and painting.-Life and work:...

, John Chamberlain, James Rosati
James Rosati
James Rosati was an American abstract sculptor.Born in Pennsylvania, Rosati moved to New York in 1944, where he befriended fellow sculptor Philip Pavia. He was a charter member of the Eighth Street Club and the New York School of abstract expressionists...

, Mark di Suvero
Mark di Suvero
Marco Polo "Mark" di Suvero is an American abstract expressionist sculptor born Marco Polo Levi in Shanghai, China in 1933 to Italian expatriates. He immigrated to San Francisco, California in 1942 with his family. From 1953 to 1957, he attended the University of California, Berkeley to study...

, and sculptors Richard Lippold
Richard Lippold
Richard Lippold was an American sculptor, known for his geometric constructions using wire as a medium....

, Herbert Ferber
Herbert Ferber
Herbert Ferber was an American sculptor and painter, born in New York City. He began his independent artistic studies in New York in 1926 at evening classes at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, while attending Columbia University Dental School...

, Raoul Hague, George Rickey
George Rickey
George Rickey was an American kinetic sculptor.Rickey was born on June 6, 1907 in South Bend, Indiana.-Life and work:...

, Reuben Nakian
Reuben Nakian
Reuben Nakian was an American sculptor and teacher of Armenian extraction. His recurring themes are from Greek and Roman mythology. Noted works include Leda and the Swan, The Rape of Lucrece, Hecuba, and The Birth of Venus...

, and even Tony Smith
Tony Smith (sculptor)
Tony Smith was an American sculptor, visual artist, architectural designer, and a noted theorist on art. He is often cited as a pioneering figure in American Minimalist sculpture.-Education:...

, Seymour Lipton
Seymour Lipton
Seymour Lipton was an American abstract expressionist sculptor. He was a member of the New York School who gained widespread recognition in the 1950s. He initially trained as a dentist but focused on sculpture from 1932. His early choices of medium changed from wood to lead and then to bronze, and...

, Joseph Cornell
Joseph Cornell
Joseph Cornell was an American artist and sculptor, one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage...

, and several others were integral parts of the Abstract expressionist movement. Many of the sculptors listed participated in the Ninth Street Show the famous exhibition curated by Leo Castelli
Leo Castelli
Leo Castelli was an American art dealer. He was best known to the public as an art dealer whose gallery showcased cutting edge Contemporary art for five decades...

 on East Ninth Street in New York City in 1951. Besides the painters and sculptors of the period the New York School
New York School
The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s, 1960s in New York City...

 of Abstract expressionism also generated a number of supportive poets, like Frank O'Hara
Frank O'Hara
Francis Russell "Frank" O'Hara was an American writer, poet and art critic. He was a member of the New York School of poetry.-Life:...

 and photographers like Aaron Siskind
Aaron Siskind
Aaron Siskind was an American abstract expressionist photographer. In his biography he wrote that he began his foray into photography when he received a camera for a wedding gift and began taking pictures on his honeymoon. He quickly realized the artistic potential this offered...

 and Fred McDarrah, (whose book The Artist's World in Pictures documented the New York School
New York School
The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s, 1960s in New York City...

 during the 1950s), and filmmakers — notably Robert Frank
Robert Frank
Robert Frank , born in Zürich, Switzerland, is an important figure in American photography and film. His most notable work, the 1958 photobook titled The Americans, was influential, and earned Frank comparisons to a modern-day de Tocqueville for his fresh and skeptical outsider's view of American...

 — as well.

Although the abstract expressionist school spread quickly throughout the United States, the major centers of this style were New York City and the San Francisco Bay area of California.

Art critics of the post–World War II era



In the 1940s there were not only few galleries (The Art of This Century, Pierre Matisse Gallery
Pierre Matisse
Pierre Matisse was an art dealer active in New York City. He was the youngest child of French painter Henri Matisse.-Background and early years:...

, Julien Levi Gallery and a few others) but also few critics who were willing to follow the work of the New York Vanguard.
There were also a few artists with a literary background, among them Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

 and Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

 who functioned as critics as well.

While New York and the world were yet unfamiliar with the New York avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 by the late 1940s, most of the artists who have become household names today had their well established patron critics: Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century...

 advocated Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Paul Jackson Pollock , known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and...

 and the color field
Color Field
Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists...

 painters like Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still was an American painter, and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.-Biography:...

, Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

, Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

, Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb was an American abstract expressionist painter, sculptor and graphic artist.-Biography:Gottlieb was born in New York to Jewish parents. From 1920-1921 he studied at the Art Students League of New York, after which he traveled in France and Germany for a year...

 and Hans Hofmann. Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg was an American writer, educator, philosopher and art critic. He coined the term Action Painting in 1952 for what was later to be known as abstract expressionism. The term was first employed in Rosenberg's essay "American Action Painters" published in the December 1952 issue of...

 seemed to prefer the action painters like Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

, and Franz Kline
Franz Kline
Franz Jozef Kline was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement centered around New York in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and attended Girard College, an academy in Philadelphia for fatherless boys...

, as well as the seminal paintings of Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky was an Armenian-born American painter who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. As such, his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian genocide.-Early life:...

. Thomas B. Hess, the managing editor of ARTnews
ARTnews
ARTnews is an arts magazine based in New York, founded by James Clarence Hyde in 1902 as Hyde’s Weekly Art News. It is published 11 times a year.ARTnews covers all art, from ancient to Post-modernism...

, championed Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

.

The new critics elevated their proteges by casting other artists as "followers" or ignoring those who did not serve their promotional goal.

In 1958, Mark Tobey
Mark Tobey
Mark George Tobey was an American abstract expressionist painter, born in Centerville, Wisconsin. Widely recognized throughout the United States and Europe, Tobey is the most noted among the "mystical painters of the Northwest." Senior in age and experience, Tobey had a strong influence on the...

 "became the first American painter since Whistler (1895) to win top prize at the Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Venice, Italy. The Venice Film Festival is part of it. So too is the Venice Biennale of Architecture, which is held in even years...

.

Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

, a late member of the Uptown Group
The Art of This Century Gallery
The Art of This Century gallery was opened by Peggy Guggenheim at 30 W. 57th Street in New York City on October 20, 1942. The gallery occupied two commercial spaces on the seventh floor of a building that was part of the midtown arts district including the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of...

, wrote catalogue forewords and reviews, and by the late 1940s became an exhibiting artist at Betty Parsons Gallery. His first solo show was in 1948. Soon after his first exhibition, Barnett Newman remarked in one of the Artists' Session at Studio 35: "We are in the process of making the world, to a certain extent, in our own image." Utilizing his writing skills, Newman fought every step of the way to reinforce his newly established image as an artist and to promote his work. An example is his letter on April 9, 1955, "Letter to Sidney Janis: — it is true that Rothko talks the fighter. He fights, however, to submit to the philistine world. My struggle against bourgeois society has involved the total rejection of it."

Strangely the person thought to have had most to do with the promotion of this style was a New York Trotskyite Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century...

. As long time art critic for the Partisan Review
Partisan Review
Partisan Review was an American political and literary quarterly published from 1934 to 2003, though it suspended publication between October 1936 and December 1937.-Overview:...

 and The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

, he became an early and literate proponent of abstract expressionism. The well-heeled artist Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

 joined Greenberg in promoting a style that fit the political climate and the intellectual rebelliousness of the era.

Clement Greenberg proclaimed abstract expressionism and Jackson Pollock in particular as the epitome of aesthetic value. It supported Pollock's work on formalistic grounds as simply the best painting of its day and the culmination of an art tradition going back via Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 and Cézanne to Monet, in which painting became ever 'purer' and more concentrated in what was 'essential' to it, the making of marks on a flat surface.

Jackson Pollock's work has always polarised critics. Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg was an American writer, educator, philosopher and art critic. He coined the term Action Painting in 1952 for what was later to be known as abstract expressionism. The term was first employed in Rosenberg's essay "American Action Painters" published in the December 1952 issue of...

 spoke of the transformation of painting into an existential drama in Pollock's work, in which "what was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event". "The big moment came when it was decided to paint 'just to paint'. The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of liberation from value — political, aesthetic, moral."

One of the most vocal critics of abstract expressionism at the time was New York Times art critic John Canaday
John Canaday
John Edwin Canaday was a leading American art critic, author and art historian.-Early life:...

. Meyer Schapiro
Meyer Schapiro
Meyer Schapiro was a Lithuanian-born American art historian known for forging new art historical methodologies that incorporated an interdisciplinary approach to the study of works of art...

, and Leo Steinberg
Leo Steinberg
Leo Steinberg was an American art critic and art historian and a naturalized citizen of the U.S.-Life:Steinberg was born in Moscow, Russia and grew up in Berlin, Germany. He was the son of Isaac Nachman Steinberg. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art...

 along with Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg were important art historians of the post-war era who voiced support for abstract expressionism. During the early to mid sixties younger art critics Michael Fried, Rosalind Krauss and Robert Hughes
Robert Hughes (critic)
Robert Studley Forrest Hughes, AO is an Australian-born art critic, writer and television documentary maker who has resided in New York since 1970.-Early life:...

 added considerable insights into the critical dialectic that continues to grow around abstract expressionism.

World War II and the Post-War period


During the period leading up to and during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 modernist artists, writers, and poets, as well as important collectors and dealers, fled Europe and the onslaught of the Nazis for safe haven in the United States. Many of those who didn't flee perished. Among the artists and collectors who arrived in New York during the war (some with help from Varian Fry
Varian Fry
Varian Mackey Fry was an American journalist. Fry ran a rescue network in Vichy France that helped approximately 2,000 to 4,000 anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees to escape Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.-Early life:...

) were Hans Namuth
Hans Namuth
Hans Namuth was a German-born photographer. Namuth specialized in portraiture, photographing many artists, including abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. His photos of Pollock at work in his studio increased Pollock's fame and recognition and led to a greater understanding of his work and...

, Yves Tanguy
Yves Tanguy
Raymond Georges Yves Tanguy , known as Yves Tanguy, was a French surrealist painter.-Biography:Tanguy was born in Paris, France, the son of a retired navy captain. His parents were both of Breton origin...

, Kay Sage
Kay Sage
Katherine Linn Sage , usually known as Kay Sage, was an American Surrealist artist and poet.-Biography:...

, Max Ernst
Max Ernst
Max Ernst was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism.-Early life:...

, Jimmy Ernst
Jimmy Ernst
Jimmy Ernst was an American painter born in Germany.-Early life:Jimmy Ernst was born in 1920 in Cologne, Germany, the son of surrealist painter Max Ernst and Luise Straus, a well-known art historian and journalist. His parents divorced in 1922 and Ernst staying with his mother in Cologne...

, Peggy Guggenheim
Peggy Guggenheim
Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim was an American art collector. Born to a wealthy New York City family, she was the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim, who went down with the Titanic in 1912 and the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who would establish the Solomon R...

, Leo Castelli
Leo Castelli
Leo Castelli was an American art dealer. He was best known to the public as an art dealer whose gallery showcased cutting edge Contemporary art for five decades...

, Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp was a French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Considered by some to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Duchamp's output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art...

, André Masson
André Masson
André-Aimé-René Masson was a French artist.-Biography:Masson was born in Balagny-sur-Thérain, Oise, but was brought up in Belgium. He began his study of art at the age of eleven in Brussels, at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts under the guidance of Constant Montald, and later he studied in Paris...

, Roberto Matta
Roberto Matta
Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren , better known as Roberto Matta, was one of Chile's best-known painters and a seminal figure in 20th century abstract expressionist and surrealist art....

, André Breton
André Breton
André Breton was a French writer and poet. He is known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism"....

, Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall Art critic Robert Hughes referred to Chagall as "the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century."According to art historian Michael J...

, Jacques Lipchitz
Jacques Lipchitz
Jacques Lipchitz was a Cubist sculptor.Jacques Lipchitz was born Chaim Jacob Lipchitz, son of a building contractor in Druskininkai, Lithuania, then within the Russian Empire...

, Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style...

 and Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian , was a Dutch painter.He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism...

. A few artists, notably Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter...

 and Pierre Bonnard
Pierre Bonnard
Pierre Bonnard was a French painter and printmaker, as well as a founding member of Les Nabis.-Biography:...

 remained in France and survived. The post-war period left the capitals of Europe in upheaval with an urgency to economically and physically rebuild and to politically regroup. In Paris, formerly the center of European culture and capital of the art world, the climate for art was a disaster and New York replaced Paris as the new center of the art world. In Europe after the war there was the continuation of Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

, Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

, Dada
Dada
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature—poetry, art manifestoes, art theory—theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a...

 and the works of Matisse. Also in Europe, Art brut
Outsider Art
The term outsider art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for art brut , a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by insane-asylum inmates.While...

, and Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

 or Tachisme
Tachisme
Tachisme is a French style of abstract painting popular in the 1940s and 1950s. It is often considered to be the European equivalent to abstract expressionism...

 (the European equivalent to Abstract expressionism) took hold of the newest generation. Serge Poliakoff
Serge Poliakoff
Serge Poliakoff was a Russian-born French modernist painter belonging to the 'New' Ecole de Paris .- Biography :...

, Nicolas de Staël
Nicolas de Staël
Nicolas de Staël was a painter known for his use of a thick impasto and his highly abstract landscape painting...

, Georges Mathieu
Georges Mathieu
Georges Mathieu is a French painter in the style of lyrical abstraction.-Biography:He was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, and gained an international reputation in the 1950s as a leading Abstract Expressionist. His large paintings are created very rapidly and impulsively...

, Vieira da Silva, Jean Dubuffet
Jean Dubuffet
Jean Philippe Arthur Dubuffet was a French painter and sculptor. His idealistic approach to aesthetics embraced so called "low art" and eschewed traditional standards of beauty in favor of what he believed to be a more authentic and humanistic approach to image-making.-Life and work:Dubuffet was...

, Yves Klein
Yves Klein
Yves Klein was a French artist considered an important figure in post-war European art. He is the leading member of the French artistic movement of Nouveau réalisme founded in 1960 by the art critic Pierre Restany...

 and Pierre Soulages
Pierre Soulages
Pierre Soulages is a French painter, engraver, and sculptor.-Biography:Born in Rodez in 1919, Soulages also is known as "the painter of black" because of his interest in the colour, "...both a colour and a non-colour. When light is reflected on black, it transforms and transmutes it. It opens up...

 among others are considered important figures in post-war European painting. In the United States a new generation of American artists began to emerge and to dominate the world stage and they were called Abstract Expressionists.

Gorky, Hofmann and Graham


The 1940s in New York City heralded the triumph of American Abstract expressionism, a modernist movement that combined lessons learned from Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter...

, Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

, Joan Miró
Joan Miró
Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona.Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride...

, Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

, Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

, and early Modernism via great teachers in America like Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann was a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.-Biography:Hofmann was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. When he was six he moved with his family to Munich...

 from Germany and John D. Graham
John D. Graham
John D. Graham was a Ukrainian-born American Modernist / figurative painter.He was born Ivan Gratianovitch Dombrowsky in Kiev, Ukraine...

 from Russia. Graham's influence on American art during the early 1940s was particularly visible in the work of Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky was an Armenian-born American painter who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. As such, his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian genocide.-Early life:...

, Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

 and Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Paul Jackson Pollock , known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and...

. Gorky's contributions to American and world art are difficult to overestimate. His work as lyrical abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

 was a "new language. He "lit the way for two generations of American artists". The painterly spontaneity of mature works like "The Liver is the Cock's Comb". "The Betrothal II", and "One Year the Milkweed" immediately prefigured Abstract expressionism, and leaders in the New York School
New York School
The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s, 1960s in New York City...

 have acknowledged Gorky's considerable influence. American artists also benefited from the presence of Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian , was a Dutch painter.He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism...

, Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style...

, Max Ernst and the André Breton
André Breton
André Breton was a French writer and poet. He is known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism"....

 group, Pierre Matisse's gallery, and Peggy Guggenheim
Peggy Guggenheim
Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim was an American art collector. Born to a wealthy New York City family, she was the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim, who went down with the Titanic in 1912 and the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who would establish the Solomon R...

's gallery The Art of This Century, as well as other factors. Hans Hofmann in particular as teacher, mentor and artist was both important and influential to the development and success of Abstract Expressionism in the United States. Among Hofmann's protege's was Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century...

 who became an enormously influential voice for American painting and among his students was Lee Krasner
Lee Krasner
Lee Krasner was an influential abstract expressionist painter in the second half of the 20th century. On October 25, 1945, she married artist Jackson Pollock, who was also influential in the Abstract Expressionism movement....

 who introduced her teacher Hans Hofmann to Jackson Pollock her husband.

Pollock and Abstract influences


During the late 1940s Jackson Pollock's radical approach to painting revolutionized the potential for all Contemporary art
Contemporary art
Contemporary art can be defined variously as art produced at this present point in time or art produced since World War II. The definition of the word contemporary would support the first view, but museums of contemporary art commonly define their collections as consisting of art produced...

 that followed him. To some extent, Pollock realized that the journey toward making a work of art was as important as the work of art itself. Like Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

's innovative reinventions of painting and sculpture near the turn of the century via Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 and constructed sculpture, Pollock redefined what it was to produce art. His move away from easel painting and conventionality was a liberating signal to the artists of his era and to all that came after. Artists realized that Jackson Pollock's process—the placing of unstretched raw canvas
Canvas
Canvas is an extremely heavy-duty plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a wooden frame...

 on the floor where it could be attacked from all four sides using artist materials and industrial materials; linear skeins of paint dripped and thrown; drawing, staining, brushing; imagery and non-imagery—essentially blasted artmaking beyond any prior boundary. Abstract expressionism in general expanded and developed the definitions and possibilities that artists had available for the creation of new works of art.

The other Abstract expressionists followed Pollock's breakthrough with new breakthroughs of their own. In a sense the innovations of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

, Franz Kline
Franz Kline
Franz Jozef Kline was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement centered around New York in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and attended Girard College, an academy in Philadelphia for fatherless boys...

, Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

, Philip Guston
Philip Guston
Philip Guston was a notable painter and printmaker in the New York School, which included many of the Abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning...

, Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann was a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.-Biography:Hofmann was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. When he was six he moved with his family to Munich...

, Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still was an American painter, and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.-Biography:...

, Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

, Ad Reinhardt
Ad Reinhardt
Adolph Frederick Reinhardt was an Abstract painter active in New York beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists and was a part of the movement centered around the Betty Parsons Gallery that became known as Abstract Expressionism...

, Richard Pousette-Dart
Richard Pousette-Dart
Richard Pousette-Dart was an American Abstract Expressionist painter.-Biography:He was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and grew up in Valhalla, New York. Although Richard never attended art school, his father, Nathaniel J. Pousette-Dart, was a painter and writer on art. He moved to Manhattan in 1937...

, Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

, Peter Voulkos
Peter Voulkos
Peter Voulkos popular name of Panagiotis Voulkos, was an American artist of Greek descent. He is known for his Abstract Expressionist ceramic sculptures, which crossed the traditional divide between ceramic crafts and fine art....

 and others opened the floodgates to the diversity and scope of all the art that followed them. The new art movements of the 1960s essentially followed the lead of Abstract Expressionism and in particular the innovations of Pollock, De Kooning, Rothko, Hofmann, Reinhardt and Newman. The radical Anti-Formalist movements of the 1960s and 1970s including Fluxus
Fluxus
Fluxus—a name taken from a Latin word meaning "to flow"—is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning,...

, Neo-Dada
Neo-Dada
Neo-Dada is a label applied primarily to audio and visual art that has similarities in method or intent to earlier Dada artwork. It is the foundation of Fluxus, Pop Art and Nouveau réalisme. Neo-Dada is exemplified by its use of modern materials, popular imagery, and absurdist contrast...

, Conceptual art
Conceptual art
Conceptual art is art in which the concept or idea involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. Many of the works, sometimes called installations, of the artist Sol LeWitt may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions...

 and the Feminist movement
Feminist movement
The feminist movement refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment and sexual violence...

 can be traced to the innovations of Abstract Expressionism. Rereadings into abstract art, done by art historians such as Linda Nochlin
Linda Nochlin
Linda Nochlin is an American art historian, university professor and writer. She is considered to be a leader in feminist art history studies. She is best known as a proponent of the question "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?"...

, Griselda Pollock
Griselda Pollock
Griselda Pollock is a prominent art historian and cultural analyst, and a world-renowned scholar of international, post-colonial feminist studies in the visual arts. She is best known for her theoretical and methodological innovation, combined with deeply engaged readings of historical and...

  and Catherine de Zegher critically shows, however, that pioneer women artists who have produced major innovations in modern art had been ignored by the official accounts of its history, but finally began to achieve long overdue recognition in the wake of the abstract expressionist movement of the 1940s and 1950s.

Action painting


The style was widespread from the 1940s until the early 1960s, and is closely associated with abstract expressionism (some critics have used the terms action painting
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

 and abstract expressionism interchangeably). A comparison is often drawn between the American action painting and the French tachisme
Tachisme
Tachisme is a French style of abstract painting popular in the 1940s and 1950s. It is often considered to be the European equivalent to abstract expressionism...

.

The term was coined by the American critic Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg was an American writer, educator, philosopher and art critic. He coined the term Action Painting in 1952 for what was later to be known as abstract expressionism. The term was first employed in Rosenberg's essay "American Action Painters" published in the December 1952 issue of...

 in 1952 and signaled a major shift in the aesthetic perspective of New York School
New York School
The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s, 1960s in New York City...

 painters and critics. According to Rosenberg the canvas was "an arena in which to act". While abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Paul Jackson Pollock , known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and...

, Franz Kline
Franz Kline
Franz Jozef Kline was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement centered around New York in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and attended Girard College, an academy in Philadelphia for fatherless boys...

 and Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

 had long been outspoken in their view of a painting as an arena within which to come to terms with the act of creation, earlier critics sympathetic to their cause, like Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century...

, focused on their works' "objectness." To Greenberg, it was the physicality of the paintings' clotted and oil-caked surfaces that was the key to understanding them as documents of the artists' existential
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 struggle.

Rosenberg's critique shifted the emphasis from the object to the struggle itself, with the finished painting being only the physical manifestation, a kind of residue, of the actual work of art, which was in the act or process of the painting's creation. This spontaneous activity was the "action" of the painter, through arm and wrist movement, painterly
Painterly
Painterliness is a translation of the German term , a word popularized by Swiss art historian Heinrich Wölfflin in order to help focus, enrich and standardize the terms being used by art historians of his time to characterize works of art...

 gestures, brushstrokes, thrown paint, splashed, stained, scumbled and dripped. The painter would sometimes let the paint drip onto the canvas, while rhythmically dancing, or even standing in the canvas, sometimes letting the paint fall according to the subconscious mind, thus letting the unconscious
Unconscious mind
The unconscious mind is a term coined by the 18th century German romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge...

 part of the psyche
Psyche (psychology)
The word psyche has a long history of use in psychology and philosophy, dating back to ancient times, and has been one of the fundamental concepts for understanding human nature from a scientific point of view. The English word soul is sometimes used synonymously, especially in older...

 assert and express itself. All this, however, is difficult to explain or interpret because it is a supposed unconscious
Unconscious mind
The unconscious mind is a term coined by the 18th century German romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge...

 manifestation of the act of pure creation.

Abstract expressionism has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, rather nihilistic. In practice, the term is applied to any number of artists working (mostly) in New York who had quite different styles, and even applied to work which is not especially abstract nor expressionist. Pollock's energetic action painting
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

s, with their "busy" feel, are different both technically and aesthetically, to the violent and grotesque Women series of Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

. (As seen below in the gallery) Woman V is one of a series of six paintings made by de Kooning between 1950 and 1953 that depict a three-quarter-length female figure. He began the first of these paintings, Woman I, collection: The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, in June 1950, repeatedly changing and painting out the image until January or February 1952, when the painting was abandoned unfinished. The art historian Meyer Schapiro
Meyer Schapiro
Meyer Schapiro was a Lithuanian-born American art historian known for forging new art historical methodologies that incorporated an interdisciplinary approach to the study of works of art...

 saw the painting in de Kooning's studio soon afterwards and encouraged the artist to persist. De Kooning's response was to begin three other paintings on the same theme; Woman II, collection: The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, Woman III
Woman III
Woman III is a painting by abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. Woman III is one of a series of six paintings by de Kooning done between 1951 and 1953 in which the central theme was a woman...

, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art
Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art
Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art is an art museum in Tehran, Iran.Inaugurated in 1977, and built adjacent to Tehran's Laleh Park, the museum was designed by Iranian architect Kamran Diba, who employed elements from traditional Persian architecture. The building can be listed as a contemporary...

, Woman IV, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is an art museum in Kansas City, Missouri, known for its neoclassical architecture and extensive collection of Asian art....

, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

. During the summer of 1952, spent at East Hampton
East Hampton (town), New York
The Town of East Hampton is located in southeastern Suffolk County, New York, at the eastern end of the South Shore of Long Island. It is the easternmost town in the state of New York...

, de Kooning further explored the theme through drawings and pastels. He may have finished work on Woman I by the end of June, or possibly as late as November 1952, and probably the other three women pictures were concluded at much the same time. The Woman series are decidedly figurative paintings
Figurative art
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and sculptures—which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.-Definition:...

.

Another important artist is Franz Kline
Franz Kline
Franz Jozef Kline was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement centered around New York in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and attended Girard College, an academy in Philadelphia for fatherless boys...

, as demonstrated by his painting Number 2, 1954 (see above) as with Jackson Pollock and other Abstract Expressionists, was labelled an "action painter
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

 because of his seemingly spontaneous and intense style, focusing less, or not at all, on figures or imagery, but on the actual brush strokes and use of canvas.

Automatic writing was an important vehicle for action painters Franz Kline
Franz Kline
Franz Jozef Kline was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement centered around New York in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and attended Girard College, an academy in Philadelphia for fatherless boys...

 in his black and white paintings, Jackson Pollock, Mark Tobey and Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly
Edwin Parker "Cy" Twombly, Jr. was an American artist well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors...

 who used gesture, surface, and line to create calligraphic, linear symbols and skeins that resemble language, and resonate as powerful manifestations from the collective unconscious. Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

 in his Elegy to the Spanish Republic series also painted powerful black and white paintings using gesture, surface and symbol evoking powerful emotional charges.

While other action painters notably Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

, Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky was an Armenian-born American painter who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. As such, his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian genocide.-Early life:...

, Norman Bluhm
Norman Bluhm
Norman Bluhm , was an American painter classified as an abstract expressionist, and as an action painter.- Biography :...

, Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell was a "second generation" abstract expressionist painter. She was an essential member of the American Abstract expressionist movement, even though much of her career took place in France. Along with Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, and Helen Frankenthaler she was one of her era's few...

, and James Brooks
James Brooks (painter)
James Brooks was an American muralist, abstract painter and winner of the Logan Medal of the Arts. Brooks was a friend of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner on Eastern Long Island. In 1947 he married artist Charlotte Park...

 (see gallery) used imagery via either abstract landscape or as expressionistic visions of the figure to articulate their highly personal and powerful evocations. James Brooks' paintings were particularly poetic and highly prescient in relationship to Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

 that became prominent in the late 1960s and the 1970s.

Color field


Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still was an American painter, and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.-Biography:...

, Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

, Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb was an American abstract expressionist painter, sculptor and graphic artist.-Biography:Gottlieb was born in New York to Jewish parents. From 1920-1921 he studied at the Art Students League of New York, after which he traveled in France and Germany for a year...

 (see gallery) and the serenely shimmering blocks of color in Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

's work (which is not what would usually be called expressionist and which Rothko denied was abstract), are classified as abstract expressionists, albeit from what Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century...

 termed the Color field
Color Field
Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists...

 direction of abstract expressionism. Both Hans Hofmann (see gallery) and Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

 (gallery) can be comfortably described as practitioners of action painting
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

 and Color field painting
Color Field
Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists...

. In the 1940s Richard Pousette-Dart
Richard Pousette-Dart
Richard Pousette-Dart was an American Abstract Expressionist painter.-Biography:He was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and grew up in Valhalla, New York. Although Richard never attended art school, his father, Nathaniel J. Pousette-Dart, was a painter and writer on art. He moved to Manhattan in 1937...

's tightly constructed imagery often depended upon themes of mythology and mysticism; as did the paintings of Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb was an American abstract expressionist painter, sculptor and graphic artist.-Biography:Gottlieb was born in New York to Jewish parents. From 1920-1921 he studied at the Art Students League of New York, after which he traveled in France and Germany for a year...

, and Jackson Pollock in that decade as well.

Color Field painting initially referred to a particular type of abstract expressionism, especially the work of Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

, Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still was an American painter, and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.-Biography:...

, Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

, Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

, Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb was an American abstract expressionist painter, sculptor and graphic artist.-Biography:Gottlieb was born in New York to Jewish parents. From 1920-1921 he studied at the Art Students League of New York, after which he traveled in France and Germany for a year...

, Ad Reinhardt
Ad Reinhardt
Adolph Frederick Reinhardt was an Abstract painter active in New York beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists and was a part of the movement centered around the Betty Parsons Gallery that became known as Abstract Expressionism...

 and several series of paintings by Joan Miró
Joan Miró
Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona.Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride...

. Art critic
Art critic
An art critic is a person who specializes in evaluating art. Their written critiques, or reviews, are published in newspapers, magazines, books and on web sites...

 Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century...

 perceived Color Field painting as related to but different from Action painting
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

. The Color Field painters sought to rid their art of superfluous rhetoric. Artists like Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

, Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still was an American painter, and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.-Biography:...

, Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

, Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb was an American abstract expressionist painter, sculptor and graphic artist.-Biography:Gottlieb was born in New York to Jewish parents. From 1920-1921 he studied at the Art Students League of New York, after which he traveled in France and Germany for a year...

, Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann was a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.-Biography:Hofmann was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. When he was six he moved with his family to Munich...

, Helen Frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler is an American abstract expressionist painter. She is a major contributor to the history of postwar American painting. Having exhibited her work in six decades she has spanned several generations of abstract painters while continuing to produce vital and ever-changing new work...

, Sam Francis
Sam Francis
Samuel Lewis Francis was an American painter and printmaker.-Early life:...

, Mark Tobey
Mark Tobey
Mark George Tobey was an American abstract expressionist painter, born in Centerville, Wisconsin. Widely recognized throughout the United States and Europe, Tobey is the most noted among the "mystical painters of the Northwest." Senior in age and experience, Tobey had a strong influence on the...

 (see gallery) and especially Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

 whose masterpiece Vir heroicus sublimis
Vir heroicus sublimis
Vir Heroicus Sublimis is a painting by Barnett Newman, an American painter who was a key part of the abstract expressionist movement. Vir Heroicus Sublimis—"man, heroic and sublime" in Latin—attempts to evoke a reaction from its viewers because of its overwhelming scale and saturated color.-Newman...

 is in the collection of MoMA
Moma
Moma may refer to:* Moma , an owlet moth genus* Moma Airport, a Russian public airport* Moma District, Nampula, Mozambique* Moma River, a right tributary of the Indigirka River* Google Moma, the Google corporate intranet...

 and Ad Reinhardt
Ad Reinhardt
Adolph Frederick Reinhardt was an Abstract painter active in New York beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists and was a part of the movement centered around the Betty Parsons Gallery that became known as Abstract Expressionism...

 used greatly reduced references to nature, and they painted with a highly articulated and psychological use of color. In general these artists eliminated recognizable imagery. In the case of Rothko and Gottlieb sometimes using symbol and sign as replacement of imagery. Certain artists quoted references to past or present art, but in general color field painting presents abstraction as an end in itself. In pursuing this direction of modern art
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

, artists wanted to present each painting as one unified, cohesive, monolithic image.

In distinction to the emotional energy and gestural surface marks of Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Paul Jackson Pollock , known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and...

 and Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

, the Color Field painters initially appeared to be cool and austere, effacing the individual mark in favor of large, flat areas of color, which these artists considered to be the essential nature of visual abstraction, along with the actual shape of the canvas, which later in the 1960s Frank Stella
Frank Stella
Frank Stella is an American painter and printmaker, significant within the art movements of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction.-Biography:...

 in particular achieved in unusual ways with combinations of curved and straight edges. However Color Field painting has proven to be both sensual and deeply expressive albeit in a different way from gestural Abstract expressionism.

Although Abstract expressionism spread quickly throughout the United States, the major centers of this style were New York City and California, especially in the New York School
New York School
The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s, 1960s in New York City...

, and the San Francisco Bay area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

. Abstract expressionist paintings share certain characteristics, including the use of large canvases, an "all-over" approach, in which the whole canvas is treated with equal importance (as opposed to the center being of more interest than the edges). The canvas as the arena became a credo of Action painting
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

, while the integrity of the picture plane became a credo of the Color field
Color Field
Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists...

 painters. Younger artists began exhibiting their abstract expressionist related paintings during the 1950s as well including Alfred Leslie
Alfred Leslie
Alfred Leslie is an American artist and filmmaker. He first achieved success as an Abstract Expressionist painter, but changed course in the early 1960s and became a painter of realistic figurative paintings.-Biography:...

, Sam Francis
Sam Francis
Samuel Lewis Francis was an American painter and printmaker.-Early life:...

, Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell was a "second generation" abstract expressionist painter. She was an essential member of the American Abstract expressionist movement, even though much of her career took place in France. Along with Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, and Helen Frankenthaler she was one of her era's few...

, Helen Frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler is an American abstract expressionist painter. She is a major contributor to the history of postwar American painting. Having exhibited her work in six decades she has spanned several generations of abstract painters while continuing to produce vital and ever-changing new work...

, Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly
Edwin Parker "Cy" Twombly, Jr. was an American artist well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors...

, Milton Resnick
Milton Resnick
Milton Resnick was a major abstract expressionist painter and teacher known for his mystical, abstract and figurative paintings. Born in Bratslav, Russia, he emigrated to the United States in 1922.-Biography:...

, Michael Goldberg
Michael Goldberg
Michael Goldberg was an American abstract expressionist painter and teacher known for his gestural action paintings, abstractions and still-life paintings. His work was recently seen in September 2007 in a solo exhibition at Knoedler & Company in New York City, as well as several exhibitions at...

, Norman Bluhm
Norman Bluhm
Norman Bluhm , was an American painter classified as an abstract expressionist, and as an action painter.- Biography :...

, Grace Hartigan
Grace Hartigan
Grace Hartigan was an American Abstract Expressionist painter of the New York School in the 1950s.-Biography and early career:...

, Friedel Dzubas
Friedel Dzubas
Friedel Dzubas was a German-born American abstract painter.-Life and work:Friedel Dzubas studied art in his native land before fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939 and settling in New York City. In Manhattan during the early 1950s, he shared a studio with fellow abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler...

, and Robert Goodnough
Robert Goodnough
Robert Goodnough was an American abstract expressionist painter. A veteran of World War II, Goodnough was one of the last of the original generation of the New York School; , even though he began exhibiting his work in galleries in New York City in the...

 among others.

In the 1960s after abstract expressionism




In abstract painting
Abstract art
Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an...

 during the 1950s and 1960s several new directions like Hard-edge painting
Hard-edge painting
Hard-edge painting is painting in which abrupt transitions are found between color areas. Color areas are often of one unvarying color. The Hard-edge painting style is related to Geometric abstraction, Op Art, Post-painterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting.-History of the term:The term was...

 exemplified by John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin (artist)
John Dwyer McLaughlin was an American abstract painter. Based primarily in California, he was a pioneer in minimalist and hard-edge painting.-Life:...

 expland other forms of Geometric abstraction, as a reaction against the subjectivism of Abstract expressionism began to appear in artist studios and in radical avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 circles. Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century...

 became the voice of Post-painterly abstraction; by curating an influential exhibition of new painting that toured important art museums throughout the United States in 1964. Color field painting, Hard-edge painting
Hard-edge painting
Hard-edge painting is painting in which abrupt transitions are found between color areas. Color areas are often of one unvarying color. The Hard-edge painting style is related to Geometric abstraction, Op Art, Post-painterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting.-History of the term:The term was...

 and Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

 emerged as radical new directions.

Abstract expressionism and the Cold War


Since the mid 1970s it has been argued by revisionist historians
Historical revisionism
In historiography, historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event...

 that the style attracted the attention, in the early 1950s, of the CIA, who saw it as representative of the USA as a haven of free thought and free markets, as well as a challenge to both the socialist realist styles prevalent in communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 nations and the dominance of the European art markets. The book by Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War—The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, published in the UK as Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War, details how the CIA financed and organized the promotion of American abstract expressionists as part of cultural imperialism
Cultural imperialism
Cultural imperialism is the domination of one culture over another. Cultural imperialism can take the form of a general attitude or an active, formal and deliberate policy, including military action. Economic or technological factors may also play a role...

 via the Congress for Cultural Freedom from 1950–67.
Against this revisionist tradition, an essay by Michael Kimmelman
Michael Kimmelman
Michael Kimmelman is an author, critic, columnist and pianist. He is the chief architecture critic for The New York Times and written on issues of public housing, community development and social responsibility. He was the paper's longtime chief art critic and, in 2007, created the Abroad column,...

, chief art critic of The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, called Revisiting the Revisionists: The Modern, Its Critics and the Cold War, argue that much of this information (as well as the revisionists' interpretation of it) concerning what was happening on the American art scene during the 1940s and 50s is flatly false, or at best (contrary to the revisionists' avowed historiographic principles) decontextualized . Other books on the subject include Art in the Cold War by Christine Lindey, which also describes the art of the Soviet Union at the same time; and Pollock and After edited by Francis Frascina, which reprinted the Kimmelman article.

Consequences



Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 painter Jean-Paul Riopelle
Jean-Paul Riopelle
Jean-Paul Riopelle, was a painter and sculptor from Quebec, Canada.-Biography:Born in Montreal, he studied under Paul-Émile Borduas in the 1940s and was a member of Les Automatistes movement. He was one of the signers of the Refus global manifesto...

 (1923–2002) who was a member of the Montreal-based, surrealist-inspired group Les Automatistes
Les Automatistes
Les Automatistes were a group of Québécois artistic dissidents from Montreal, Quebec. The movement was founded in the early 1940s by painter Paul-Émile Borduas. "Les Automatistes" were so called because they were influenced by Surrealism and its theory of automatism...

 helped introduce a related style that some might problematically call abstract impressionism
Abstract impressionism
Abstract Impressionism is a type of abstract painting where small brushstrokes build and structure large paintings...

 to Paris in the 1950s. Michel Tapié
Michel Tapié
Michel Tapié was an internationally active French critic, curator, and collector of art. He was an early and influential theorist and practitioner of "tachisme", which is generally regarded as the European equivalent of abstract expressionism...

's groundbreaking book, Un Art Autre (1952), was also enormously influential in this regard. Tapié was also a curator and exhibition organizer who promoted the works of Pollock and Hans Hofmann in Europe. By the 1960s, the movement's initial affect had been assimilated, yet its methods and proponents remained highly influential in art, affecting profoundly the work of many artists who followed. Abstract Expressionism preceded Tachisme
Tachisme
Tachisme is a French style of abstract painting popular in the 1940s and 1950s. It is often considered to be the European equivalent to abstract expressionism...

, Color Field painting, Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

, Fluxus
Fluxus
Fluxus—a name taken from a Latin word meaning "to flow"—is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning,...

, Pop Art
Pop art
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art...

, Minimalism
Minimalism
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts...

, Postminimalism
Postminimalism
Postminimalism is an art term coined by Robert Pincus-Witten in 1971 used in various artistic fields for work which is influenced by, or attempts to develop and go beyond, the aesthetic of minimalism...

, Neo-expressionism
Neo-expressionism
Neo-expressionism is a style of modern painting and sculpture that emerged in the late 1970s and dominated the art market until the mid-1980s...

, and the other movements of the sixties and seventies and it influenced all those later movements that evolved. Movements which were direct responses to, and rebellions against abstract expressionism began with Hard-edge painting
Hard-edge painting
Hard-edge painting is painting in which abrupt transitions are found between color areas. Color areas are often of one unvarying color. The Hard-edge painting style is related to Geometric abstraction, Op Art, Post-painterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting.-History of the term:The term was...

 (Frank Stella
Frank Stella
Frank Stella is an American painter and printmaker, significant within the art movements of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction.-Biography:...

, Robert Indiana
Robert Indiana
Robert Indiana is an American artist associated with the Pop Art movement.-Life and work:Robert Indiana was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana. His family relocated to Indianapolis, where he graduated from Arsenal Technical High School...

 and others) and Pop artists
Pop art
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art...

, notably Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol
Andrew Warhola , known as Andy Warhol, was an American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art...

, Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg is a Swedish sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects...

 and Roy Lichtenstein
Roy Lichtenstein
Roy Lichtenstein was a prominent American pop artist. During the 1960s his paintings were exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City and along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist and others he became a leading figure in the new art movement...

 who achieved prominence in the US, accompanied by Richard Hamilton
Richard Hamilton (artist)
Richard William Hamilton, CH was a British painter and collage artist. His 1956 collage, Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?, produced for the This Is Tomorrow exhibition of the Independent Group in London, is considered by critics and historians to be one of the...

 in Britain. Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg was an American artist who came to prominence in the 1950s transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Rauschenberg is well-known for his "Combines" of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations...

 and Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns, Jr. is an American contemporary artist who works primarily in painting and printmaking.-Life:Born in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns spent his early life in Allendale, South Carolina with his paternal grandparents after his parents' marriage failed...

 in the US formed a bridge between abstract expressionism and Pop art. Minimalism
Minimalism
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts...

 was exemplified by artists such as Donald Judd
Donald Judd
Donald Clarence Judd was an American artist associated with minimalism . In his work, Judd sought autonomy and clarity for the constructed object and the space created by it, ultimately achieving a rigorously democratic presentation without compositional hierarchy...

, Robert Mangold
Robert Mangold
Robert Mangold is an American minimalist artist.- Works :“Robert Mangold’s paintings,” wrote Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times in 1997, “are more complicated to describe than they seem, which is partly what’s good about them: the way they invite intense scrutiny, which, in the nature of good...

 and Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
Agnes Bernice Martin was an American abstract painter, often referred to as a minimalist; Martin considered herself an abstract expressionist.She won a National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1998....

.

However, many painters, such as Jules Olitski
Jules Olitski
Jules Olitski was an American abstract painter, printmaker, and sculptor.-Early life:Olitski was born Jevel Demikovski in Snovsk, in the Russian SFSR , a few months after his father, a commissar, was executed by the Russian government...

, Jane Frank
Jane Frank
Jane Schenthal Frank was an American artist. She studied with Hans Hofmann and Norman Carlberg and is known as a painter, sculptor, mixed media artist, and textile artist...

 (a pupil of Hans Hofmann), and Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies i Puig, 1st Marquess of Tàpies is a Catalan painter. He is one of the most famous European artists of his generation. After studying law for 3 years, he devoted himself from 1943 onwards only to his painting...

 continued to work in the abstract expressionist style for many years, extending and expanding its visual and philosophical implications, as many abstract artists continue to do today, in styles described as Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

, Neo-expressionist
Neo-expressionism
Neo-expressionism is a style of modern painting and sculpture that emerged in the late 1970s and dominated the art market until the mid-1980s...

 and others.

Major artists

  • Significant artists whose mature work defined American Abstract Expressionism:


  • Charles Alston
    Charles Alston
    Charles Henry Alston was an African-American painter, sculptor, illustrator, muralist and teacher who lived and worked in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Alston was active in the Harlem Renaissance; Alston was the first African American supervisor for the Works Progress Administration's...

  • Alice Baber
    Alice Baber
    Alice Baber was an American abstract expressionist painter who worked in oils and watercolor.Alice was born in Charleston, Illinois. She grew up in Kansas, Illinois and Miami, Florida, her family traveled south to Florida yearly because of Alice poor health. They settled in Illinois when World War...

  • William Baziotes
    William Baziotes
    William Baziotes was an American painter influenced by Surrealism and was a contributor to Abstract Expressionism.-Life and career:...

  • Norman Bluhm
    Norman Bluhm
    Norman Bluhm , was an American painter classified as an abstract expressionist, and as an action painter.- Biography :...

  • Louise Bourgeois
    Louise Bourgeois
    Louise Joséphine Bourgeois , was a renowned French-American artist and sculptor, best known for her contributions to both modern and contemporary art, and for her spider structures, titled Maman, which resulted in her being nicknamed the Spiderwoman...

  • Ernest Briggs
  • James Brooks
    James Brooks (painter)
    James Brooks was an American muralist, abstract painter and winner of the Logan Medal of the Arts. Brooks was a friend of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner on Eastern Long Island. In 1947 he married artist Charlotte Park...

  • Fritz Bultman
    Fritz Bultman
    Fritz Bultman was an American Abstract expressionist painter, sculptor, and collagist and a member of the New York School of artists....

  • Hans Burkhardt
    Hans Burkhardt
    Hans Gustav Burkhardt was a Swiss American abstract expressionist.-Life and work:In 1924 he emigrated from Basel, Switzerland to New York. He shared Arshile Gorky's studio from 1929 to 1936...

  • Jack Bush
    Jack Bush
    Jack Bush was a Canadian abstract expressionist painter, born in Toronto, Ontario in 1909 and he died there 24 January 1977...

  • Alexander Calder
    Alexander Calder
    Alexander Calder was an American sculptor and artist most famous for inventing mobile sculptures. In addition to mobile and stable sculpture, Alexander Calder also created paintings, lithographs, toys, tapestry, jewelry and household objects.-Childhood:Alexander "Sandy" Calder was born in Lawnton,...

  • Nicolas Carone
    Nicolas Carone
    Nicolas Carone belonged to the early generation of New York School Abstract Expressionist artists whose artistic innovation by the 1950s had been recognized across the Atlantic, including Paris...

  • Giorgio Cavallon
    Giorgio Cavallon
    Giorgio Cavallon was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists and a pioneer Abstract Expressionist.-Biography:Giorgio Cavallon was born March 3, 1904 in Sorio, near Venice Italy and immigrated to the USA in 1920...

  • John Chamberlain
  • Elaine de Kooning
    Elaine de Kooning
    Elaine de Kooning was an Abstract Expressionist, Figurative Expressionist painter in the post-World War II era and editorial associate for Art News magazine...

  • Willem de Kooning
    Willem de Kooning
    Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

  • Robert De Niro, Sr.
    Robert De Niro, Sr.
    Robert Henry De Niro, Sr. was an American abstract expressionist painter and the father of actor Robert De Niro.-Life and career:...

  • Richard Diebenkorn
    Richard Diebenkorn
    Richard Diebenkorn was a well-known 20th century American painter. His early work is associated with Abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His later work were instrumental to his achievement of worldwide acclaim.-Biography:Richard Clifford Diebenkorn Jr...

  • Mark di Suvero
    Mark di Suvero
    Marco Polo "Mark" di Suvero is an American abstract expressionist sculptor born Marco Polo Levi in Shanghai, China in 1933 to Italian expatriates. He immigrated to San Francisco, California in 1942 with his family. From 1953 to 1957, he attended the University of California, Berkeley to study...

  • Enrico Donati
    Enrico Donati
    Enrico Donati was an American Surrealist painter and sculptor of Italian birth.-Life and work:Enrico Donati studied economics at the Università degli Studi, Pavia, and in 1934 moved to the USA, where he attended the New School for Social Research and the Art Students League of New York...


  • Edward Dugmore
    Edward Dugmore
    Edward Dugmore was an abstract expressionist painter known for close ties to both the San Francisco and New York art worlds in post-war era following World War II. Since 1950 he had more than two dozen solo exhibitions of his paintings in galleries across the United States...

  • Friedel Dzubas
    Friedel Dzubas
    Friedel Dzubas was a German-born American abstract painter.-Life and work:Friedel Dzubas studied art in his native land before fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939 and settling in New York City. In Manhattan during the early 1950s, he shared a studio with fellow abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler...

  • Jimmy Ernst
    Jimmy Ernst
    Jimmy Ernst was an American painter born in Germany.-Early life:Jimmy Ernst was born in 1920 in Cologne, Germany, the son of surrealist painter Max Ernst and Luise Straus, a well-known art historian and journalist. His parents divorced in 1922 and Ernst staying with his mother in Cologne...

  • Herbert Ferber
    Herbert Ferber
    Herbert Ferber was an American sculptor and painter, born in New York City. He began his independent artistic studies in New York in 1926 at evening classes at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, while attending Columbia University Dental School...

  • Perle Fine
    Perle Fine
    Perle Fine was among the most prominent female artists associated with American Abstract Expressionism.-Biography:Perle Fine was born in Boston, MA, in 1908. Her interest in art started at early age. In her early twenties she moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League with Kimon...

  • Sam Francis
    Sam Francis
    Samuel Lewis Francis was an American painter and printmaker.-Early life:...

  • Jane Frank
    Jane Frank
    Jane Schenthal Frank was an American artist. She studied with Hans Hofmann and Norman Carlberg and is known as a painter, sculptor, mixed media artist, and textile artist...

  • Helen Frankenthaler
    Helen Frankenthaler
    Helen Frankenthaler is an American abstract expressionist painter. She is a major contributor to the history of postwar American painting. Having exhibited her work in six decades she has spanned several generations of abstract painters while continuing to produce vital and ever-changing new work...

  • Michael Goldberg
    Michael Goldberg
    Michael Goldberg was an American abstract expressionist painter and teacher known for his gestural action paintings, abstractions and still-life paintings. His work was recently seen in September 2007 in a solo exhibition at Knoedler & Company in New York City, as well as several exhibitions at...

  • Robert Goodnough
    Robert Goodnough
    Robert Goodnough was an American abstract expressionist painter. A veteran of World War II, Goodnough was one of the last of the original generation of the New York School; , even though he began exhibiting his work in galleries in New York City in the...

  • Arshile Gorky
    Arshile Gorky
    Arshile Gorky was an Armenian-born American painter who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. As such, his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian genocide.-Early life:...

  • Adolph Gottlieb
    Adolph Gottlieb
    Adolph Gottlieb was an American abstract expressionist painter, sculptor and graphic artist.-Biography:Gottlieb was born in New York to Jewish parents. From 1920-1921 he studied at the Art Students League of New York, after which he traveled in France and Germany for a year...

  • Morris Graves
    Morris Graves
    Morris Cole Graves was an American expressionist painter. Along with Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, William Cumming, and Mark Tobey, he founded the Northwest School. Graves was also a mystic.-Early years:...

  • Cleve Gray
    Cleve Gray
    Cleve Gray was known as an Abstract expressionist painter, who was also associated with Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction.-Biography:...

  • Philip Guston
    Philip Guston
    Philip Guston was a notable painter and printmaker in the New York School, which included many of the Abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning...

  • David Hare
    David Hare (artist)
    David Hare was an American artist, associated with the Surrealist movement. He is primarily known for his sculpture, though he also worked extensively in photography and painting.-Life and work:...

  • Grace Hartigan
    Grace Hartigan
    Grace Hartigan was an American Abstract Expressionist painter of the New York School in the 1950s.-Biography and early career:...

  • Hans Hofmann
    Hans Hofmann
    Hans Hofmann was a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.-Biography:Hofmann was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. When he was six he moved with his family to Munich...

  • Paul Jenkins
    Paul Jenkins (United States painter)
    - Biography :He was born in 1923 in Kansas City, Missouri. In Kansas City, the artist met Frank Lloyd Wright who was commissioned by the artist's great-uncle, the Rev. Burris Jenkins, to rebuild his church after a fire. Also during his years in Kansas City, the young Jenkins visited Thomas Hart...

  • Earl Kerkam
    Earl Kerkam
    Earl Cavis Kerkam, according to Willem deKooning, Philip Guston, Mark Rothko, George Spaventa and Esteban Vicente “was one of the finest painters to come out of America.” Gerald Norland wrote at the Ear Kerkam Memorial Exhibition in 1966:...


  • Franz Kline
    Franz Kline
    Franz Jozef Kline was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement centered around New York in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and attended Girard College, an academy in Philadelphia for fatherless boys...

  • Albert Kotin
    Albert Kotin
    Albert Kotin belonged to the early generation of New York School Abstract Expressionist artists whose artistic innovation by the 1950s had been recognized across the Atlantic, including Paris...

  • Lee Krasner
    Lee Krasner
    Lee Krasner was an influential abstract expressionist painter in the second half of the 20th century. On October 25, 1945, she married artist Jackson Pollock, who was also influential in the Abstract Expressionism movement....

  • Ibram Lassaw
    Ibram Lassaw
    Ibram Lassaw is an American sculptor, known for nonobjective construction in brazed metals.-Biography:Lassaw was born in Alexandria, Egypt, of Russian émigré parents, he went to the U.S. in 1921. His family settled in Brooklyn, New York. He became a US citizen in 1928...

  • Norman Lewis
    Norman Lewis (artist)
    Norman W. Lewis was an African-American painter, scholar, and teacher. He is associated with Abstract Expressionism. Lewis was African-American, of Caribbean descent.-Early life and career:...

  • Richard Lippold
    Richard Lippold
    Richard Lippold was an American sculptor, known for his geometric constructions using wire as a medium....

  • Seymour Lipton
    Seymour Lipton
    Seymour Lipton was an American abstract expressionist sculptor. He was a member of the New York School who gained widespread recognition in the 1950s. He initially trained as a dentist but focused on sculpture from 1932. His early choices of medium changed from wood to lead and then to bronze, and...

  • Morris Louis
  • Conrad Marca-Relli
    Conrad Marca-Relli
    Conrad Marca-Relli was an American artist who belonged to the early generation of New York School Abstract Expressionist artists whose artistic innovation by the 1950s had been recognized across the Atlantic, including Paris...

  • Nicholas Marsicano
    Nicholas Marsicano
    Nicholas Marsicano , American painter and teacher of the New York School, was married to Dancer/Choreagrapher Merle Marsicano...

  • Mercedes Matter
    Mercedes Matter
    Mercedes Matter née Carles was an American painter and draughtswoman. Her father was the American modernist painter Arthur Beecher Carles who had studied with Henri Matisse. Her mother, Mercedes de Cordoba, was a model for Edward Steichen...

  • Joan Mitchell
    Joan Mitchell
    Joan Mitchell was a "second generation" abstract expressionist painter. She was an essential member of the American Abstract expressionist movement, even though much of her career took place in France. Along with Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, and Helen Frankenthaler she was one of her era's few...

  • Robert Motherwell
    Robert Motherwell
    Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

  • Louise Nevelson
  • Barnett Newman
    Barnett Newman
    Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

  • Isamu Noguchi
    Isamu Noguchi
    was a prominent Japanese American artist and landscape architect whose artistic career spanned six decades, from the 1920s onward. Known for his sculpture and public works, Noguchi also designed stage sets for various Martha Graham productions, and several mass-produced lamps and furniture pieces,...

  • Kenzo Okada
    Kenzo Okada
    Kenzo Okada was a Japanese-born American painter.According to Michelle Stuart, “when Okada came to the United States he was already a mature painter, well considered in his native Japan...

  • Stephen Pace
    Stephen Pace (artist)
    Stephen Pace was an American painter best known for his work as an Abstract expressionist and for his figurative art.-Biography:...

  • Ray Parker
    Ray Parker (painter)
    Raymond Parker was born in 1922 and he died in 1990. He was known as an Abstract expressionist painter who also is associated with Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction...

  • Jackson Pollock
    Jackson Pollock
    Paul Jackson Pollock , known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and...


  • Fuller Potter
    Fuller Potter
    Fuller Potter was an American Abstract expressionist artist. He was born in New York City in 1910, attended St. Bernard's School in New York and Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts, and lived most of his life in his Ledyard, Connecticut estate, near Old Mystic...

  • Richard Pousette-Dart
    Richard Pousette-Dart
    Richard Pousette-Dart was an American Abstract Expressionist painter.-Biography:He was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and grew up in Valhalla, New York. Although Richard never attended art school, his father, Nathaniel J. Pousette-Dart, was a painter and writer on art. He moved to Manhattan in 1937...

  • Ad Reinhardt
    Ad Reinhardt
    Adolph Frederick Reinhardt was an Abstract painter active in New York beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists and was a part of the movement centered around the Betty Parsons Gallery that became known as Abstract Expressionism...

  • Milton Resnick
    Milton Resnick
    Milton Resnick was a major abstract expressionist painter and teacher known for his mystical, abstract and figurative paintings. Born in Bratslav, Russia, he emigrated to the United States in 1922.-Biography:...

  • George Rickey
    George Rickey
    George Rickey was an American kinetic sculptor.Rickey was born on June 6, 1907 in South Bend, Indiana.-Life and work:...

  • Jean Paul Riopelle
  • William Ronald
    William Ronald
    William Ronald, R.C.A. William Ronald, R.C.A. (August 13, 1926 – February 9, 1998) William Ronald, R.C.A. (August 13, 1926 – February 9, 1998) (born William Ronald Smith, was an important Canadian painter, best known as the founder of the influential Canadian abstract art group...

  • Theodore Roszak
    Theodore Roszak (artist)
    Theodore Roszak was an American sculptor and painter. He was born in Posen, Prussia , now Poznań, Poland, as a son of Polish parents, and emigrated to the United States at the age of two...

  • Mark Rothko
    Mark Rothko
    Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

  • Anne Ryan
    Anne Ryan
    Anne Ryan belonged to the early generation of New York School Abstract Expressionist artists. Her first contact with the New York Avant-garde came in 1941 when she joined the Atelier 17, a famous printmaking workshop that the British artist Stanley William Hayter had established in Paris in the...

  • Louis Schanker
    Louis Schanker
    Louis Schanker was an American abstract artist born in 1903. He grew up in an orthodox Jewish environment in the Bronx, New York. His parents were of Romanian descent...

  • Jon Schueler
    Jon Schueler
    Jon Schueler was an American artist.-Biography:Schueler was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He first had the desire to become a writer, and after he acquired his Masters degree at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1940, he worked for a short time as a journalist...

  • Charles Seliger
    Charles Seliger
    Charles Seliger was an American abstract expressionist painter. He was born in Manhattan June 3, 1926, and he died on 1 October 2009, in Westchester County, New York...

  • Harold Shapinsky
    Harold Shapinsky
    Harold Shapinsky was an American abstract expressionist painter, born in Brooklyn, New York.-Family:His father was David Shapinsky , a "cutter" in the garment trades...

  • David Smith
    David Smith (sculptor)
    David Roland Smith was an American Abstract Expressionist sculptor and painter, best known for creating large steel abstract geometric sculptures.-Biography:...

  • Theodoros Stamos
    Theodoros Stamos
    Theodoros Stamos , was a Greek American artist. He is one of the youngest painters of the original group of abstract expressionist painters , which included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko...

  • Richard Stankiewicz
    Richard Stankiewicz
    Richard Stankiewicz was an American sculptor, known for his work in scrap metal.Stankiewicz was born in Philadelphia, but spent his formative years in Detroit. He began painting and sculpting while in the United States Navy, in which he served from 1941 until 1947...

  • Joe Stefanelli
    Joe Stefanelli (painter)
    Joe Stefanelli also known as Joseph J. Stefanelli belonged to the New York School Abstract Expressionist artists whose influence and artistic innovation by the 1950s had been recognized around the world...

  • Hedda Sterne
    Hedda Sterne
    Hedda Sterne was an artist best remembered as the only woman in a group of Abstract Expressionists known as "The Irascibles" which consisted of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and others...

  • Clyfford Still
    Clyfford Still
    Clyfford Still was an American painter, and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.-Biography:...


  • Alma Thomas
  • Mark Tobey
    Mark Tobey
    Mark George Tobey was an American abstract expressionist painter, born in Centerville, Wisconsin. Widely recognized throughout the United States and Europe, Tobey is the most noted among the "mystical painters of the Northwest." Senior in age and experience, Tobey had a strong influence on the...

  • Bradley Walker Tomlin
    Bradley Walker Tomlin
    Bradley Walker Tomlin belonged to the early generation of New York School Abstract Expressionist artists. He participated in the famous ‘’Ninth Street Show.’’ According to John I. H...

  • Cy Twombly
    Cy Twombly
    Edwin Parker "Cy" Twombly, Jr. was an American artist well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors...

  • Jack Tworkov
    Jack Tworkov
    Jack Tworkov was a Polish born American abstract expressionist painter.He was born in Biała Podlaska, Russian Empire and immigrated to the United States in 1913 with his mother and younger sister who would later become known as Janice Biala...

  • Esteban Vicente
    Esteban Vicente
    Esteban Vicente Pérez , was an American painter born in Turégano, Spain. He was one of the first generation of New York School abstract expressionists.-Early life:...

  • Peter Voulkos
    Peter Voulkos
    Peter Voulkos popular name of Panagiotis Voulkos, was an American artist of Greek descent. He is known for his Abstract Expressionist ceramic sculptures, which crossed the traditional divide between ceramic crafts and fine art....

  • Hale Woodruff
    Hale Woodruff
    Hale Aspacio Woodruff was an African American artist known for his murals, paintings, and prints. One example of his work, the three-panel Amistad Mutiny murals , can be found at Talladega College in Talladega County, Alabama...

  • Emerson Woelffer
    Emerson Woelffer
    Emerson Woelffer was a prominent abstract expressionism artist and painter born in Chicago. He studied Education at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago between 1935 and 1937. In 1938 he joined the WPA Arts Program. In 1949 he taught at Black Mountain College at the request of Buckminster...

  • Taro Yamamoto
    Taro Yamamoto (artist)
    Taro Yamamoto belonged to the New York School Abstract Expressionist artists whose artistic innovation by the 1950s had been recognized across the Atlantic, including Paris...

  • Manouchehr Yektai


Other artists

  • Significant artists whose mature work relates to American Abstract Expressionism:


  • Karel Appel
    Karel Appel
    Christiaan Karel Appel was a Dutch painter, sculptor, and poet. He started painting at the age of fourteen and studied at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in the 1940s...

  • James Bohary
    James Bohary
    James Bohary to an English mother James Bohary (born 1940 in Brooklyn, New York) to an English mother James Bohary (born 1940 in Brooklyn, New York) to an English mother (Alice Wood born in Bolton Lancashire in 1907 and an Indonesian father William. He is an American Abstract Expressionist...

  • William Brice
    William Brice
    William Brice was an artist known for his large-scale abstract paintings.-Biography:Born to actress Fannie Brice and gambler/criminal Nicky Arnstein, April 23, 1921, he spent his early years living with his mother and his sister Frances , while their father was in prison on a variety of charges...

  • Charles Ragland Bunnell
    Charles Ragland Bunnell
    Charles Ragland Bunnell , was an American painter, printmaker, and muralist. He moved to Colorado Springs in 1915 and was thereafter associated with that city. As a WPA artist from 1934 to 1941 he executed many commissioned murals in a sturdy, somewhat abstracted figurative style...

  • Mary Callery
    Mary Callery
    Mary Callery was an American artist known for her Modern and Abstract Expressionist sculpture. She was part of the New York School art movement of the 1940s, '50s and '60s....

  • Edward Clark
    Edward Clark (artist)
    Edward Clark also known as Ed Clark is an African American abstract expressionist painter and one of the early experimenters with shaped canvas in the 1950s.Edward Clark stated:-Biography:...

  • Donald Cole
    Donald Cole (painter)
    Donald Cole is an American abstract expressionist painter. He received a BS from Bucknell University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. He served in the Navy during the Korean War...

  • Alfred L. Copley
    Alfred L. Copley
    Alfred Lewin Copley was a German-American medical scientist and an artist at the New York School in the 1950s. As an artist he worked under the name L. Alcopley. He is best known as an artist for his abstract expressionist paintings, and as a scientist for his work in the field of hemorheology...

     aka (L. Alcopley)
  • Edward Corbett
  • Jean Dubuffet
    Jean Dubuffet
    Jean Philippe Arthur Dubuffet was a French painter and sculptor. His idealistic approach to aesthetics embraced so called "low art" and eschewed traditional standards of beauty in favor of what he believed to be a more authentic and humanistic approach to image-making.-Life and work:Dubuffet was...

  • Lynne Drexler
    Lynne Mapp Drexler
    Lynne Drexler was born in Newport News, Virginia in 1928. She began painting as a child, and later took art classes at the College of William and Mary. In 1956, she moved to New York City in order to further her study. There, she became a devotee of Abstract Expressionism, and studied with two...

  • Lucio Fontana
    Lucio Fontana
    Lucio Fontana was an Italian painter, sculptor and theorist of Argentine birth. He was mostly known as the founder of Spatialism and his ties to Arte Povera.-Early life:...

  • Herbert Gentry
    Herbert Gentry
    Herbert Gentry was an African American Expressionist painter lived and worked in Paris, France, , Copenhagen, Denmark , In the Swedish cities of Gothenburg , Stockholm , and Malmo , and in New York City as a permanent resident of the Hotel Chelsea.-The art of Herbert Gentry:Gentry’s...

  • Sam Gilliam
    Sam Gilliam
    Sam Gilliam is internationally recognized as one of America's foremost Color Field Painter and Lyrical Abstractionist artists....

  • John D. Graham
    John D. Graham
    John D. Graham was a Ukrainian-born American Modernist / figurative painter.He was born Ivan Gratianovitch Dombrowsky in Kiev, Ukraine...

  • Elaine Hamilton
    Elaine Hamilton-O'Neal
    Elaine Hamilton-O'Neal, , professionally known as Elaine Hamilton, was an internationally known American abstract painter and muralist born near Catonsville, Maryland...


  • Hans Hartung
    Hans Hartung
    Hans Hartung was a German-French painter, known for his gestural abstract style. He was also a decorated World War II veteran of the French Foreign Legion.-Life:...

  • Gino Hollander
    Gino Hollander
    Eugene F. Hollander or Gino Hollander is a self-taught American painter. He began painting around the beginning of modern art in New York City during the abstract expressionist movement.-Early life:...

  • Jasper Johns
    Jasper Johns
    Jasper Johns, Jr. is an American contemporary artist who works primarily in painting and printmaking.-Life:Born in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns spent his early life in Allendale, South Carolina with his paternal grandparents after his parents' marriage failed...

  • Karl Kasten
    Karl Kasten
    Karl Albert Kasten was a painter-printmaker-educator in the San Francisco Bay Area.- Early life :Kasten, fourth child of Ferdinand Kasten and his wife Barbara Anna Kasten, grew up in San Francisco's Richmond District not far from the peacocks at Golden Gate Park...

  • Michael Loew
    Michael Loew
    Michael Loew was an American Abstract Expressionist artist who was born in New York City.In the late 1920s, Loew studied at the Art Students League with the Ashcan School and was a recipient of a Sadie A. May Fellowship which allowed Loew to continue his studies in France...

  • John Levee
    John Levee
    John Levee is an American abstract expressionist painter who has worked in Paris since 1949. His father was M. C. Levee.-Background:...

  • Knox Martin
    Knox Martin
    Knox Martin is an American painter, sculptor and muralist.Born in 1923 in Barranquilla, Colombia, he studied at the Art Students League of New York from 1946 till 1950. He is one of the leading members of New York School - a group of artists and writers. He lives and works in New York City."Art is...

  • Georges Mathieu
    Georges Mathieu
    Georges Mathieu is a French painter in the style of lyrical abstraction.-Biography:He was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, and gained an international reputation in the 1950s as a leading Abstract Expressionist. His large paintings are created very rapidly and impulsively...

  • Herbert Matter
    Herbert Matter
    Herbert Matter was a Swiss-born American photographer and graphic designer known for his pioneering use of photomontage in commercial art...

  • Edward Meneeley
    Edward Meneeley
    Edward Meneeley is an American artist who works primarily in painting, sculpture, and printmaking.-Life:...

  • Ludwig Merwart
    Ludwig Merwart
    Ludwig Merwart was an influential Austrian painter and graphic artist. He is an important representative of abstract expressionism and was a major force in graphic arts and prints, especially after World War II...

  • Jan Müller
    Jan Müller (artist)
    Jan Müller was a New York Figurative Expressionist of the 1950s. According to Carter Ratcliff, "His paintings usually erect a visual architecture sturdy enough to support an array of standing, riding, levitating figures...

  • Robert Natkin
    Robert Natkin
    Robert Natkin was an American born abstract painter whose work is associated with Abstract expressionism, Color field painting, and Lyrical Abstraction....

  • Jules Olitski
    Jules Olitski
    Jules Olitski was an American abstract painter, printmaker, and sculptor.-Early life:Olitski was born Jevel Demikovski in Snovsk, in the Russian SFSR , a few months after his father, a commissar, was executed by the Russian government...

  • Irene Rice-Pereira
    I. Rice Pereira
    Irene Rice Pereira was an American abstract artist, known for her work in the Geometric abstraction, Abstract expressionist, and Lyrical Abstraction genres and her use of the principles of the Bauhaus school....


  • Robert Rauschenberg
    Robert Rauschenberg
    Robert Rauschenberg was an American artist who came to prominence in the 1950s transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Rauschenberg is well-known for his "Combines" of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations...

  • Larry Rivers
    Larry Rivers
    Larry Rivers was an American artist, musician, filmmaker and occasional actor. Rivers resided and maintained studios in New York City, Southampton, New York and Zihuatanejo, Mexico.-Biography:...

  • Jack Roth
    Jack Roth
    Jack Roth was a 20th century American painter who developed a style as an Abstract Expressionist, and as a Color Field painter...

  • Pablo Serrano
  • Aaron Siskind
    Aaron Siskind
    Aaron Siskind was an American abstract expressionist photographer. In his biography he wrote that he began his foray into photography when he received a camera for a wedding gift and began taking pictures on his honeymoon. He quickly realized the artistic potential this offered...

  • Pierre Soulages
    Pierre Soulages
    Pierre Soulages is a French painter, engraver, and sculptor.-Biography:Born in Rodez in 1919, Soulages also is known as "the painter of black" because of his interest in the colour, "...both a colour and a non-colour. When light is reflected on black, it transforms and transmutes it. It opens up...

  • Nicolas de Staël
    Nicolas de Staël
    Nicolas de Staël was a painter known for his use of a thick impasto and his highly abstract landscape painting...

  • Frank Stella
    Frank Stella
    Frank Stella is an American painter and printmaker, significant within the art movements of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction.-Biography:...

  • Stuart Sutcliffe
    Stuart Sutcliffe
    Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe was a Scottish artist and musician, best known as the original bass player of The Beatles. Sutcliffe left the band to pursue a career as an artist, having previously attended the Liverpool College of Art...

  • Augustus Vincent Tack
    Augustus Vincent Tack
    Augustus Vincent Tack was an American painter of portraits, landscapes and abstractions.-Early years:Tack was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved with his family to New York in 1883. After graduating from St. Francis Xavier College in New York City in 1890, Tack studied at the Art Students...

  • Antoni Tàpies
    Antoni Tàpies
    Antoni Tàpies i Puig, 1st Marquess of Tàpies is a Catalan painter. He is one of the most famous European artists of his generation. After studying law for 3 years, he devoted himself from 1943 onwards only to his painting...

  • Nína Tryggvadóttir
    Nína Tryggvadóttir
    Nína Tryggvadóttir was born Jónína Tryggvadóttir in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland.Nína Tryggvadóttir is one of Iceland's most important abstract expressionist artists and one of very few Icelandic female artists of her generation. Mainly working in painting she also did paper collage, stained glass work,...

  • Don Van Vliet
    Captain Beefheart
    Don Van Vliet January 15, 1941 December 17, 2010) was an American musician, singer-songwriter and artist best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians called The Magic Band, active between 1965 and 1982, with whom he recorded 12...

  • Ulfert Wilke
    Ulfert Wilke
    Ulfert Wilke was an internationally recognized painter, calligrapher and art collector connected to the abstract expressionism movement. He was born in Bavaria, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1938. He is best known for his large canvas paintings and highly detailed lithographs...

  • Zao Wou Ki
    Zao Wou Ki
    -Biography:He was born in a cultivated family and studied calligraphy in his childhood and from 1935 to 1941 painting at the school of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. In 1948, he went with his wife Lan-lan, a composer, to Paris to live on the same block in Montparnasse where the classes of Émile Othon...


Related styles, trends, schools, or movements

  • Abstract Art
    Abstract art
    Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an...

  • Abstract Imagists
    Abstract Imagists
    Abstract Imagists is a term derived from a 1961 exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum, New York called American Abstract Expressionists and Imagists. This exhibition was the first in the series of programs for the investigation of tendencies in American and European painting and sculpture.-Style:It...

  • Action painting
    Action painting
    Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

  • American Abstract Artists
    American Abstract Artists
    American Abstract Artists was formed in 1936 in New York City, to promote and foster public understanding of abstract art. American Abstract Artists exhibitions, publications, and lectures helped to establish the organization as a major forum for the exchange and discussion of ideas, and for...

  • Color field painting
  • History of painting
    History of painting
    The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from pre-historic humans, and spans all cultures. It represents a continuous, though periodically disrupted tradition from Antiquity. Across cultures, and spanning continents and millennia, the history of painting is an ongoing river of...

  • Lyrical Abstraction
    Lyrical Abstraction
    Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

  • New York School
    New York School
    The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s, 1960s in New York City...

  • Post-painterly abstraction
    Post-painterly Abstraction
    Post-painterly abstraction is a term created by art critic Clement Greenberg as the title for an exhibit he curated for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1964, which subsequently travelled to the Walker Art Center and the Art Gallery of Toronto....

  • Tachisme
    Tachisme
    Tachisme is a French style of abstract painting popular in the 1940s and 1950s. It is often considered to be the European equivalent to abstract expressionism...

  • CoBrA
    COBRA (avant-garde movement)
    COBRA was a European avant-garde movement active from 1948 to 1951. The name was coined in 1948 by Christian Dotremont from the initials of the members' home cities: Copenhagen , Brussels , Amsterdam .-History:...


Other related topics

  • Bluebeard - Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
    Kurt Vonnegut
    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

     is a fictional autobiography written by fictional Abstract Expressionist Rabo Karebekian.
  • Ismail Gulgee
    Ismail Gulgee
    Ismail Gulgee - The Gulgeez Pride of Performance, Sitara-e-Imtiaz , Hilal-e-Imtiaz, was an award-winning, globally famous Pakistani artist born in Peshawar. He was a qualified engineer in the U.S. and self-taught abstract painter and portrait painter. Before 1959, as portraitist, he painted the...

     (artist whose work reflects abstract expressionist influence in South Asia during the Cold War, especially 'action painting')
  • Michel Tapié
    Michel Tapié
    Michel Tapié was an internationally active French critic, curator, and collector of art. He was an early and influential theorist and practitioner of "tachisme", which is generally regarded as the European equivalent of abstract expressionism...

     (critic and exhibition organizer important to the dissemination of abstract expressionism in Europe, Japan, and Latin America)

Books


Quotations about abstract expressionism

  • Abstract Expressionist value expression over perfection, vitality over finish, fluctuation over repose, the unknown over the known, the veiled over the clear, the individual over society and the inner over the outer.
    • William C. Seitz,American artist and art historian

External links