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All about Abstract Expressionism


All about Abstract Expressionism

It is known as art without face or form. Called abstract expressionism, it crowned New York City as the center of the western art world in the post-World War II era. Abstract art is a painting or sculpture that does not depict people or things as they appear in the natural world. Instead, abstract art is intended to appeal to human emotions or beliefs, to form a kind of connection between the artist and the viewer.

Until the 20th century, most artists attempted to produce works of visible reality. One of the first to move away from that perception was Russian-born Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). He spent the last years of his life in France where he produced some of his most prominent works. Kandinsky believed that art and sound were the same. He said he could hear as well as see the color blue. He wanted the viewer to share that experience so his later abstract paintings are vivid depictions of color intended to show immense physical emotions. They are meant to produce a spiritual experience in the viewer.

By the 1940s, a group of artists interested in pursuing the ideas of Kandinsky and other Europeans settled in New York City. From their efforts to produce a new American art came the beginnings of abstract expressionism with its general brushwork, vivid color, and free form. This freedom with canvas is represented in the work of Jackson Pollock.

Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, in 1913. He moved to New York City in 1930 where he began experimenting with painting techniques while battling alcoholism. By experimenting with huge canvases laid out on the floor instead of hung on a wall or on an easel, Pollock developed his "drip" technique. He poured and dripped paint on the canvas floor from all directions. Pollock said he felt more a part of the painting as he moved around the canvas. His drip painting method is seen in some of his most famous abstract paintings. Pollock died in 1956, and Time magazine acknowledged his contribution by calling him "Jack the Dripper."

The excitement over abstract expressionism has ebbed since the mid-1950s to take its place alongside other forms of art expression. In the 21st-century art world, there is a general sense of making room for many different artists in whatever ways they wish to speak through their work.

Posted by Mirek Jan Bialy on 3/16/13

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