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  • 5/17/2004

Abstract Expressionism

AbstractExpressionism orabstract expressionism - Apaintingmovement in which artists typically applied paint rapidly, and with force to their huge canvases in an effort to show feelings and emotions, painting gesturally, non- geometrically, sometimes applying paint with large brushes, sometimes dripping or even throwing it onto canvas. Their work is characterized by a strong dependence on what appears to be accident and chance, but which is actually highly planned. Some Abstract Expressionist artists were concerned with adopting a peaceful and mystical approach to a purelyabstractimage. Usually there was no effort to representsubject matter. Not all work wasabstract, nor was all work expressive, but it was generally believed that the spontaneity of the artists' approach to their work would draw from and release thecreativity of their unconscious minds. The expressive method of painting was often considered as important as the painting itself.

Also Abstract expressionism presented a broad range of stylistic diversity within it’s largely, though not exclusively, nonrepresentational framework. For example, the expressive violence and activity in paintings by de Kooning or Pollock marked the opposite end of the pole from the simple, quiescent images of Mark Rothko. Basic to most abstract expressionist painting were the attention paid to surface qualities, i.e., qualities of brushstroke and texture; the use of huge canvases; the adoption of an approach to space in which all parts of the canvas played an equally vital role in the total work; the harnessing of accidents that occurred during the process of painting; the glorification of the act of painting itself as a means of visual communication; and the attempt to transfer pure emotion directly onto the canvas. The movement had an inestimable influence on the many varieties of work that followed it, especially in the way its proponents used color and materials. Its essential energy transmitted an enduring excitement to the American art scene.

Artists who painted in thisstyle include Hans Hoffman (German-American, 1880-1966), Adolph Gottlieb (American, 1903-1974), Mark Rothko (American, 1903-1970), Willem De Kooning (Dutch-American, 1904-1997), Clyfford Still (American, 1904-1980), Barnett Newman (American, 1905-1970), Franz Kline (American, 1910-1962), William Baziotes (American, 1912-1963),Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956), Philip Guston (American, 1913-1980), Ad Reinhardt (American, 1913-1967), Robert Motherwell (American, 1915-1991), Sam Francis (American, 1923-1994), and Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928-). Abstract Expressionism originated in the 1940s, and became popular in the 1950s.

Artworks

Hans Hofmann,Rising Sun, 1958, oil on canvas, 60 x 72 inches, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.

Hans Hofmann,Pompeii, 1959, oil on canvas, 214.0 x 132.7 cm, TateGallery,London

Mark Tobey,Cloud, 1954,tempera onpaper, 21 x 20 cm, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran

Mark Tobey,Untitled, 1961, colorlithograph, image 23.2 x 31.8 cm, sheet 44.1 x 51.9 cm inches, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA.

Mark Rothko (born Marcus Rothkowitz) (American, born Russia, 1903-1970),Untitled, 1953, mixed media on canvas, 106 x 50 7/8 inches, (269.2 x 129.2 cm), Whitney Museum of American Art, NY

Kenneth Noland  Born 1924 American Painter

Helen Frankenthaler   Born 1928 American Painter

The movement had an inestimable influence on the many varieties of work that followed it, especially in the way its proponents used color and materials. Its essential energy transmitted an enduring excitement to the American art scene.

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