Art History 1

1. Discuss the development and characteristics of Abstract Expressionism; be sure to include Gorky, Pollock, and de Kooning in your discussion, using examples of their work as discussed in the text.

The characteristics of Abstract Expressionism are paintings that have an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, rather nihilistic. They are usually on large canvases and use the whole canvas as a vocal point verses just the center. The term Abstract Expressionism was first used 1929 in the US by Alfred Barr Jr., to refer to Kandinsky’s work. Later on in the 1950’s it was used to categorize the work of New York school of painters. A lot of Abstract expressionists had gone through a surrealist phase. This had an effect on the Abstract expressionists unconsciously. One artist who made the transition from surrealism to Abstract Expressionism was Arshile Gorky (1904-48). In 1943 he painted Garden in Sochi. Garden in Sochi is third on a series of paintings portraying childhood memories. This painting is about Gorky’s memory of a garden at Sochi on the Black Sea. Another form of Abstract Expressionism is Action Painting. Action Painting is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied. Action Painting frequently accentuates the physical act of painting itself as an important part of the finished work. James Pollock (1912-56) was an “action” painter from the New York school. Pollock started as a Regionalist then turned into a Surrealist in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In 1947 Pollock started using a drip technique to create his most renowned paintings. The technique required to engage his whole body while working on paintings. In 1954, Pollock painted White Light which abolishes all indication to distinguish objects. Another “action” painter is Willem de Kooning (1904-97). Kooning paintings subject matter was only partially recognizable from his.

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