Today's Best American and Canadian Abstract Artists
Although we may think of abstract expressionism as having had its heyday during the 1950s and 1960s, the genre is undergoing a significant revival. In today’s abstract art world, a number of abstract artists have gained recently gained prominence. As modern-day exponents of abstract expressionism, these artists have shown that abstract paintings — and abstract art as a genre — can be used to capture contemporary life and culture.
Abstract expressionism is particularly popular among today’s American and Canadian artists, many of whom are producing works that are being hailed for their refreshing originality and use of mixed media.
American Abstract Art
American abstract artists owe a debt to their forerunners, artists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollack, who refined and encapsulated the abstract expressionism genre during the first half of the 20th century. Here are a few of the most prominent American contemporary abstract artists:
• Amy Sillman
American abstract artist Amy Sillman has a prominent place among today’s contemporary abstract artists. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Visual Arts, Sillman evokes what abstract art critics call “inspired imagination,” producing canvases with overlapping patches of intense color. According to Sillman, the most enduring characteristic of painting is honesty, and Sillman works to achieve artistic honesty and integrity within the framework of abstract expressionism.
Today, her abstract paintings are showcased at a large number of prominent museums, including the Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
• Richard Tuttle
American artist Richard Tuttle utilizes scale and line, often expressed in unique geometric shapes. Tuttle uses a variety of mixed media to create evocative, sometimes highly-textured works of abstract art, sometimes in blues, yellows and other primary colors, and sometimes in pastels such as sage green and dusty rose. Tuttle’s abstract paintings are shown in museums throughout the world, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
• Ellen Gallagher
American artist Ellen Gallagher uses cultural influences such as the rhythmic repetition of writer Gertrude Stein to create her multimedia works. A graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Gallagher’s works came into prominence during the 1990s. In 1995, she was first invited to exhibit at one of the world’s most distinguished venues for abstract art and abstract expressionism, the Whitney Biennial.
Gallagher uses a variety of materials — including pop culture advertisements and photographs — to create her unique commentaries on issues such as race relations and other societal concerns. Her works are shown in a number of prominent museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Tate Liverpool Gallery in England.
Canadian Abstract Artists
The Canadian abstract art movement found its most influential voice in abstract painter William Ronald, who founded the Canadian abstract art group Painters Eleven.
As a young artist, Ronald persuaded the managers of a local department store to display abstract paintings in their home furnishings department — a move that brought exposure and eventual fame to a number of local artists. From there, he founded the group that continues to influence today’s Canadian abstract school.
Ronald’s works feature bold splashes of vivid color, as well as black figures that resemble lively exotic creatures cavorting on the canvas. Since his death in 1998, Ronald’s abstract paintings have become more highly prized than ever and are shown in museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art.
Here are a few of Canada’s up-and-coming abstract artists:
• Laura Warburton
Toronto-based artist Laura Warburton is the founder of Loft Artwork, a gallery that showcases large-scale abstract paintings. Her color-filled works of abstract expressionism have an almost-psychological depth and feel to them — influenced, according to Warburton, by two decades of working in the field of psychology.
• Scott Pattinson
Canadian artist Scott Pattinson creates abstract paintings filled with layer upon layer of color, blended in such a way to evoke the blurred, misty impressionism of painters such as Monet and Degas. His color-swept canvases feature life and movement, but have an underlying harmony and serenity.
In today’s art market, abstract expressionism is undergoing a strong surge of popularity among both artists and collectors; and fortunately for the survival of art, young abstract artists are reaping the benefits of this revival. Whether you’re interested in collecting abstract paintings for investment, for aesthetic reasons, or both, it’s a good idea to do your homework and study the abstract art market to stay abreast of trends. It’s also a good idea to be on the lookout for up-and-coming abstract artists who may be on the brink of discovery. That promising young artist of today that you admire so much may, in time, be hailed as another Willem de Kooning or Jackson Pollock.