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Abstract Expressionism

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Abstract Expressionism

This paper will discuss the emergence of Abstract Expressionism in the 1950's in America, what it is, how it impacted the world and how some artists such as Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock and Rothko a Chromatic were pivotal to the movement.

Arshile Gorky was influenced by the works of Wassily Kandinsky and was credited as the founder of Post-WWII American Abstract Expressionism. His work was influential in enabling other American artists to push the boundaries and break from traditional art. Abstract Expressionism erupted in the 1950's and was the first American art movement to contribute to mainstream art. This allowed American's to break away from the category of European art and branch off to create their own individual style and gain international recognition

The movement was a huge break with traditional art, representing true personal expression through the neglection of representations and figurative painting. It was symbolic and commented on free-speech, individuality and freedom to take risks. Due to World War II and the variety of social and cultural changes of the time people were more accepting of new art movements.

Many artists contributed to the development of Abstract Expressionism which was divided into two sub-categories called Action painting and Chromatic Abstraction. Two leading art pioneers in these two sub-divisions where Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The art movement allowed these individuals to express themselves through the use of colour, shapes, lines and texture which would provoke emotions within their audiences especially due to the dramatic increase in scale.

American artist Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) was one of the commanding figures during the Abstract Expressionism movement particularly for the sub-division of Action Painting. He was the first to challenge pictorial conventions in 1947-1952 by producing his "drip" paintings by horizontally standing over the canvas' using the technique of dripping and splashing paint. Pollock also disregards conventional materials as he states "I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as easel, palette, brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass or other foreign matter added."

His non-conventional paintings were produced by a variety of spontaneous movements and manipulation of techniques which reveals to his audience his personal emotional state and unconscious, without the need for recognisable objects or narrative. Pollock states "When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I am doing... because the painting has a life of it's own".

A famous example of Pollock's artwork is "Blue Poles" (1952) which shows his manipulation of dribbled and splashed paint to create beautiful patterns and tangled lines of colour which expand over a huge area of canvas. He layers colours of red, brown, white, yellow, grey, cream and bold dark black lines occupy the painting. The



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