Abstract Expressionism

Tim Pendry

This is another short guide from the German art publishing house Taschen, edited to a very high standard by Barbara Hess who corrects the flaws in Taschen's companion volume on Surrealism - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32...

This is an ideal basic introduction to the political, social and commercial environment (within the United States) as art came out of the New Deal's era of government engagement with it and into the new 'free' model of a rapidly expanding gallery sector centred on New Y

This is another short guide from the German art publishing house Taschen, edited to a very high standard by Barbara Hess who corrects the flaws in Taschen's companion volume on Surrealism - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32...This is an ideal basic introduction to the political, social and commercial environment (within the United States) as art came out of the New Deal's era of government engagement with it and into the new 'free' model of a rapidly expanding gallery sector centred on New York.Hess also makes an effort to introduce and explain the role of women artists in the movement and how they were systematically diminished by critics as adjuncts to their 'hero' husbands and lovers. This is all the more intriguing since the arbiters of taste and gallery owners were just as likely to be women - Peggy Guggenheim, who represents some kind of link to the sensibilities of the Old World, and Betty Parsons being the most notable. There is a very interesting sexual dynamic going on here in which hero-artists in the romantic tradition treat their partners as (perhaps unintended) hand-maidens while having their hero-status dependent on the interest and whims, in part, of independent 'queen bees'. Those who have watched the TV Series 'Mad' about Madison Avenue advertising will recognise this strange arrangement of the sexes that seems peculiar to post-war America and is as intimately related to the ownership of property as any similar dynamic within a Jane Austen novel.Unfortunately, the truth is that the women artists, despite Hess' efforts, are generally less interesting and, though there is more artistic engagement by women than in the preceding movements in Europe, it really is still quite restricted in terms of attainment and importance.Hess scores over the Surrealism voluime in the series by ensuring that not only does the introduction carefully place Abstract Expressionism in its historical and cultural context but that the artworks illustrated, from Pollock's 'The Moon-Woman Cuts the Circle' (1943) through to the Rothko Chapel of 1965-1966, are in chronological order. You can thus see a movement emerging out of a distinctive American response to European surrealism and the appreciation of 'primitive' (actually Amerindian) art into an austere philosophical statement about the nature of art and spectator that eventually seeds the Minimalist and Conceptual Art revolutions.This volume is particularly recommended as an introduction to a school of art whose highest point arguably is the tormented Mark Rothko, the subject of a major retrospective at the Tate Modern in London as we write (November 2008).Personally, it is a pleasure to give five stars to a book about a school to which I do not always warm. Certainly I see little aesthetic value in the action school, and far more in the austere field painting of Barnett Newman, Rothko (of course), Clyfford Still, Ad Reinhardt, Hans Hofmann and, of course, there is the startling almost calligraphic imagery of Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb and Franz Kline. William Baziotes ('Cyclops' (1947) and Theodoros Stamos ('Documenta II' (1959)), both, interestingly, of Greek extraction, demonstrate a more symbolist sensibility within the movement and they are discoveries about whom I would know more ...Abstract Expressionism comes from a world initiated by Kandinsky (most clearly seen in the work of Arshile Gorky) but its high seriousness - deeply neurotic perhaps in the case of Rothko - was

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in permanent tension with its use, first, as Cold War propaganda, asserting individual self-expression against socialist realism, and, second, in its integration with an art market and patrons from whom the artists consistently tried to demand understanding as a right to own their works. Drives that were romantic and commercial, based on elite status games, were in permanent and painful tension. This tension appears at its greatest in Rothko's removal of commissions from restaurant and dining environments (as if revolting against the implication of his being just an up-market WPA artist) and into specially lit and designed rooms and, finally, the Chapel - the fear of becoming decorative strained with the fact that patrons' instincts were, precisely, to see the movement as decorative as it moved towards ever more austere field painting.In the end, the Movement exhausted itself. Artists could either reject the patron (which was economically absurd) or find a new way of approaching the 'market' before artists went up their own nether regions like the proverbial Oozalum Bird. And thus Pop Art was born - as an attempt by artists to relate to the wider market (beyond rich patrons) where commodities (including brands and women) were given equal status to their own 'mentalities'. Pop Art subverted the Abstract Expressionists' romantic idea of art, which was only cover for a commodity relation in practice, in order to capture greater 'real' freedom of action as 'brands' in their own right. Souls were abandoned for freedom from torment.In a sense, Pop Artists were ironically commenting on their own condition as commodities and in this way, paradoxically, regained their freedom to do as they wished and still make money, whereas the preceding generation had believed that they were free to act as they wished but were, in fact, increasingly constrained by expectation and worn down by negotiations over how a work should be seen and appreciated by the new Medicis of Wall Street. ...more

Vi

This was one of the first books my boyfriend (who is in love with the abstract expressionism movement) got me to introduce me to the world of abstract expressionism. The author's writing style flows nicely and doesn't overwhelm the reader with too much information. The book is ideal for those who are new to abstract expressionism, and is packed with great quality images of paintings (and other works of art) from the abstract expressionism movement. As a fellow female artist, I am happy that this This was one of the first books my boyfriend (who is in love with the abstract expressionism movement) got me to introduce me to the world of abstract expressionism. The author's writing style flows nicely and doesn't overwhelm the reader with too much information. The book is ideal for those who are new to abstract expressionism, and is packed with great quality images of paintings (and other works of art) from the abstract expressionism movement. As a fellow female artist, I am happy that this author did not de-emphasize the contributions that the lady artists in this movement had. ...more

Jackie

Most of the artists in this book died in New York, though born all over the world. The pictures in this book inspired me to think of shapes and colors with and without formulas.

Clotilde Monteiro de Castro

Great for study and inspiration!

JanaR MMark TehP'tit YahourtChristian LaudorSharon BressenDale L. RicklefsSandra BroadnaxKarstenJohnBrentTomas BoudreauAndrewKenDavidErin HoranSonicdiabloPedroJerry HardestyTomášJoseph McdonaldAntonio DelgadoNic MargettEric OrchardMeritMaureen Hayman


Category: Abstract

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