Abstract Expressionist Paintings
What Is The Definition Of Abstract Expressionism In Art ?
Abstract Expressionism in Art is the creation by an artist of paintings that were both abstract in form but also expressive and emotional in their appearance and effect, with the artist seeking to create an emotional response in the person looking at the painting. The term Abstract Expressionism had been used previously in Germany in 1919 to describe German Expressionism, and again in 1929 to describe the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky.
Also known as the New York School, the Abstract Expressionist movement began in New York in the 1940’s. The group of artists known as abstract expressionist artists were never established as a formal association, but they all shared the desire to break away from the accepted conventions of art, that were mainly European in origin. Abstract Expressionism was the first American art movement and grew from the aftermath of World War 2. Over time, the abstract expressionist movement and the mainly American abstract expressionist artists put New York City as the center of the Western art world, displacing Paris from that role.
What Are The Characteristics Of Abstract Expressionism Art?
Abstract expressionism was born out of the Great Depression in America in the 1930’s and a lack of tolerance by the general public of social protests by artists in their work. The more abstract and the more expressionist a modern oil painting on canvas was, the less likely it was to be caught in the prevailing art censorship in America at that time.
Almost all abstract modern art paintings are huge canvasses in a monumental scale. Although the impression that the artist was seeking to create for the viewing audience was one of spontaneity, the colossal size of the paintings involved very careful planning in advance of applying paint to canvas. The abstract expressionists were not so much trying to create a finished painting to express their feelings; they were expressing those feelings in the actual act of painting itself, with the finished result almost a byproduct of that expression.
It is generally recognized that there are two distinct forms and styles of abstract expressionism painting.
The action painters are best represented by Jackson Pollock, and also Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell. Pollock, in particular, is known for his unusual style of placing often raw canvas on the ground and haphazardly splashing, dripping, pouring and flicking paint on it, to achieve the effect he wanted. It is reported also that he would return to his drip and pour paintings, often several times, after they were finished, to add more detail.
The other main form of the abstract expressionist painting was the color field painters, best represented by Mark Rothko. Other famous exponents of this style were Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still.
The color field painters also painted huge canvasses but the works of Rothko in particular, show a very subtle use of paint, generally applied with very fine detail in a much slower process than the rapid and almost manic dripping and pouring of Pollock. Rothko painted in several fields, usually, with bright colors in irregular rectangular sections of canvas. Colors were applied in stages so that the underlying colors could be seen through the top color, creating a shimmering effect.
Although abstract expressionist painting is perceived to be dominated by a group of male artists, there were important female artists as well, notably Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning’s wife, Elaine de Kooning, and Joan Mitchell.
What Makes A Painting Abstract Expressionism?
Although there are many broad paintings styles that are covered by the term abstract expressionism, there are some characteristics shared by the abstract expressionist painters. Degrees of abstraction were used, depicting forms that were unrealistic in the real world, spontaneous emotional expression in the use of paint, with great variations in execution of their paintings to achieve this, and the use of large scale paintings that were overpowering to the viewer. The application of paint was derived from the work of the Surrealists, and they moved away from the previously conventional structuring of a composition with a single, unified field in an unstructured space.
Who Was The Father Of Abstract Expressionism?
Although abstract expressionism can be traced to the style of Russian artists in the early 20th century, and in particular Wassily Kandinsky, it is generally accepted that two painters were the forerunners of the abstract expressionist movement. These were Arshile Gorky, originally Turkish, but who emigrated to the United States in 1920, and Hans Hofmann, a German painter who was one of the most influential teachers of art in the 20th century, moving to New York City in 1930 from Paris.
Both painters shared a common experience of having lived in Europe before coming to live in America, so they both had seen the work of the famous and previously influential European Expressionists and the Surrealists, who were fleeing a war torn Europe for the safety in the USA.
Gorky was known for his use of liquid paint, and Hofmann for his textured use of brushstrokes and strong colors. Hofmann’s 1940 work, Spring, is one of the earliest paintings to use a paint dripping technique, that was so famously influential on the works of Jackson Pollock.
Hofmann taught at the Art Students League in New York City from 1933, and the following year opened his own schools in New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts, notably teaching Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock’s wife, and Helen Frankenthaler, amongst many other artists who became abstract expressionists.
Who Were The Main Artists Of Abstract Expressionism?
The most prominent abstract expressionist painters were Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Joan Mitchell, Clyfford Still, Helen Frankenthaler, Barnett Newman, Adolf Gottlieb, Robert Motherwell, Lee Krasner, and Elaine de Kooning.
Who Is The Most Famous Abstract Expressionist?
As abstract expressionism is generally divided into two main groups of artists, the action painters and the color field painters, it is reasonable to say that there are two most famous abstract expressionist painters, one from each category. This would be Jackson Pollock as the most famous action painter and Mark Rothko as the most famous color field painter.
What Are The Examples Of Abstract Expressionism Art?
From the action painters, the works of Jackson Pollock are without doubt the most famous examples of abstract expressionist art, if for no other reason than paintings by Pollock have sold for the highest prices both at auction and by private sale.
Pollock’s 1948 painting, Number 17A was bought by Kenneth C. Griffin, a hedge fund manager, for $200 million in 2016, a record breaking price for a modern art oil painting.
Pollock’s No. 5, 1948 was sold privately to an undisclosed buyer in 2006 for $140 million, at the time the world’s most expensive painting.
In 1973, the Government of Australia bought Pollock’s Number 11, 1952 – Blue Poles – for $2 million, at the time the highest price even paid for a modern oil painting. There was a considerable outcry at the time in Australia for such a large amount of money being spent on a painting, although today it must be seen as one of the most outstanding purchases of art in modern times. Blue Poles, if it were ever to be sold, would no doubt become the world’s most expensive painting.
In terms of the color field artists, the highest prices achieved in the art market are for works by Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. In 2015, hedge fund boss Kenneth C. Griffin also bought Interchange, 1955, for $300 million, making it the second most expensive painting even purchased, and part of the combined $500 million transaction for Interchange and Pollock’s Number 17A.
Mark Rothko’s No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) was sold for $186 million to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, the highest price for a modern oil painting by Rothko, to date.
Other famous abstract expressionist paintings are Woman III, by Willem de Kooning, sold for $137.5 million in 2006, Barnet Newman’s Anna’s Light, Rothko’s Orange, Red, Yellow, Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), Rothko’s No. 10, 1958, the Black and White paintings by Franz Kline, the “torn” paintings of Clyfford Still, and the works of the two women abstract expressionist artists, Joan Mitchel, with her Untitled series, and Helen Frankenthaler with her Mountains and Sea, 1952.
Abstract Expressionist oil painting reproductions are available to buy online, in many size options.