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Abstract Expressionism

Barbara Hess

Summary

Abstract expressionism refers to the non-representational use of form and color as a means of expression that emerged in America in the 1940s, largely thanks to the innovative work of Arshile Gorky. Interestingly, abstract expressionism is considered to be the first movement originating in America to have a worldwide influence. Two very different sub-categories of the movement developed: action painting (exemplified notably by Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock) and color field painting, made most famous by Mark Rothko. Abstract expressionists strove to express pure emotion directly on canvas, via color and especially texture (the surface quality of the brushstroke), by embracing accidents, and celebrating painting itself as a communicative action.

Artists featured: William Baziotes, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, David Smith, Theodoros Stamos, Clyfford Still, Mark Tobey, Bradley Walter Tomlin.

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