Abstract expressionism – Art Term | Tate

Art Term

Abstract expressionism is the term applied to new forms of abstract art developed by American painters such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning in the 1940s and 1950s. It is often characterised by gestural brush-strokes or mark-making, and the impression of spontaneity

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Email
  • Pinterest
Jackson Pollock, ‘Yellow Islands’ 1952
Jackson Pollock
Yellow Islands1952 Tate © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017

The abstract expressionists were mostly based in New York City, and also became known as the New York school. The name evokes their aim to make art that while abstract was also expressive or emotional in its effect. They were inspired by the surrealist idea that art should come from the unconscious mind, and by the automatism of artist Joan Miró.

Willem de Kooning, ‘The Visit’ 1966–7
Willem de Kooning
The Visit1966–7 Tate © Willem de Kooning Revocable Trust/ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017
Mark Rothko, ‘Black on Maroon’ 1958
Mark Rothko
Black on Maroon1958 Tate © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/DACS 2017

TYPES OF ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM

Within abstract expressionism were two broad groupings: the so-called action painters, who attacked their canvases with expressive brush strokes; and the colour field painters who filled their canvases with large areas of a single colour.

  • The action painters were led by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, who worked in a spontaneous improvisatory manner often using large brushes to make sweeping gestural marks. Pollock famously placed his canvas on the ground and danced around it pouring paint from the can or trailing it from the brush or a stick. In this way the action painters directly placed their inner impulses onto the canvas.
  • The second

    The Best Essay Writing Service - EssayBox.org

    grouping included Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still. They were deeply interested in religion and myth and created simple compositions with large areas of colour intended to produce a contemplative or meditational response in the viewer. In an essay written in 1948 Barnett Newmann said: 'Instead of making cathedrals out of Christ, man, or ‘'life'’, we are making it out of ourselves, out of our own feelings'.This approach to painting developed from around 1960 into what became known as colour field painting , characterised by artists using large areas of more or less a single flat colour .

The term action painters is applied to artists working from the 1940s until the early 1960s whose approach to painting ...

The term colour field painting is applied to the work of abstract painters working in the 1950s and 1960s characterised ...

The term New York school seems to have come into use in the 1940s to describe the radical art scene ...

Gestural is a term used to describe the application of paint in free sweeping gestures with a brush

In art, automatism refers to creating art without conscious thought, accessing material from the unconscious mind as part of the ...

A tour of Rothko at Tate Modern

Jackson Pollock's reputation – salacious untruths in tow – often precedes him. With an exhibition at Tate Liverpool exploring the blind ...

Simon Grant talks to Brice Marden about his enduring fascination with Rothko’s paintings.

Gorky's wife Agnes "Mougouch" Magruder talks about the life and work of the extraordinary painter.

The show at Tate St Ives this summer explores the international context which shaped the work of artists in the ...

This paper describes the preparation of a ‘representative sample’ and the investigation and refining of the solvent system used to ...

Contemplate the immersive power of large-scale paintings by Monet and Rothko

Discover the artist who changed American art forever


Category: Abstract

Similar articles: