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What is Abstract Expressionism? In Abstract Expressionism the artist creates work using purely colour and form. It is non representational and no objects are actually illustrated. The term was used to describe the work of Wassily Kandinsky in the early part of the 20th Century.

 

Now however it is generally associated with the movement originating in New York, America in 1946. It is considered to be the one important art movement that the USA gave to the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Shown left Jackson Pollock, Action Painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract Expressionism is often split into two categories. Firstly: Action Painting, typified by the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Arshile Gorky.

Secondly, Colour Field Painting practised by Mark Rothco and Kenneth Noland and others, which consisted of exploring non geometric blocks of colour on canvas.

Shown below Arshille Gorky’s, Waterfall

Arshile Gorky was an Armenian born American painter who had a major influence on the movement. De Kooning said: "I met a lot of artists — but then I met Gorky... He had an extraordinary gift for hitting the nail on the head; remarkable. So I immediately attached myself to him and we became very good friends."

 

Some say the only real connection between the groups is not actually their art but their artistic philosophy. They expounded this in a magazine called Tigers Eye which helped to keep their work in the public eye and spread their philosophy.

 

Abstract Expressionism was characterised by large canvases which used the all over painting technique. As the name suggests the canvas was painted all over, the crucial difference here being that each part of the canvas was as important as the next. There was no traditional focal point in the centre or anywhere else for that matter.

 

Major influences were surrealism and existentialism. Surrealists desired to use the subconscious to create automatic art. In automatic art  or automatism, the subconscious directed the hand of the artists without reference to their conscious mind. Existentialism favoured the creation of an artwork rather than the finished artwork itself. The Abstract Expressionists were inspired by retrospectives of the work of Miro and Kandinsky.

 

One of the reasons it gained favour was thought to be political. In the USA there was major censorship of the arts generally during the McCarthy era of the 50’s. This abstract art though had no subject and was therefore seen as apolitical and deemed safe.

 

Moving away from purely abstract work, Willem de Kooning completed Woman III, in 1953. shown left

 

It was sold by collector David Geffen to fellow art lover Stephen A Cohen for a remarkable137.5 million dollars in 2006. Making it, at the time, the second most expensive painting ever sold. Joining what, at the time of writing, is still the very exclusive club of paintings sold for over One Million Dollars.

 

Abstract Expressionism  produced some of the most memorable artwork of the 20th Century. As an art movement it has left a legacy of some truly creative and original paintings.

 

Abstract Expressionist paintings are amongst the best selling prints, posters and canvases gracing living rooms, bedrooms and offices the world over. We hope you’ve enjoyed our facts about Abstract Expressionism and we’ve inspired you to own some Abstract Expressionist art for yourself.

 

 

Shown Top left Arshille Gorky, Abstraction with a palette

Shown Top Right, Yellow and Gold by Mark Rothco

ABSTRACT
EXPRESSIONISM
ABSTRACT
EXPRESSIONISM
ABSTRACT
EXPRESSIONIST

1

Started in 1946 in post war New York.

2

It is considered to be the one important art movement that the USA gave to the world.

3

Abstract Expressionism can be divided into Action Painting and Colour Field painting

4

Action Painting practised by  
American Jackson Pollock,  
Armenian born
Arshile Gorky, and Dutch / American

Willem de Kooning

5

Colour Field Painting practised by

Hans Hoffman

Mark Rothco

6

Artists were linked together more by their philosophy than their style of painting

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Willem de Kooning’s 1953 work, Woman III, was sold for a staggering 137.5 million dollars in 2006

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Influenced by Surrealism and Existentialism

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Abstract and seen as apolitical so escaped censorship during the post war McCarthy period in America, allowing it to become mainstream

10

Characterised by large canvases and all over painting where each part was as important as the next with no traditional focal point

10 fast and fab facts about Abstract Expressionism ?

Facts about abstract expressionism
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