Abstract Expressionism

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Abstract Expressionism Abstract Expressionism was an art movement in American painting that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s. Sometimes referred to as the New York School, it was first related to the work of Vasily Kandinsky in 1929. Initially influenced by surrealism and cubism, abstract expressionists rejected the social realism, and geometric abstraction so popular with American painters of the 1930s. In the late 1930s and early '40s many European avant-garde artists travelled to New York and gave modern art a great boost.. The Abstract Expressionist style itself is generally regarded as having begun with the paintings done by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning in the late 1940s and early '50s. The artists taking part in the movement asserted that it was a broad style with varying degrees of abstraction used to convey strong emotional or expressive content. Although the term primarily refers to a small group of painters, Abstract Expressionist qualities can also be seen in sculpture and photography. This style has nonetheless been interpreted as an especially 'American' style because of its attention to the physical immediacy of paint. It certainly became the first American visual art to achieve international status and influence. The works were usually abstract (i.e., they depicted forms which were not found in the natural world); they emphasized freedom of emotional expression, technique, and execution. The canvases were large, to enhance the visual effect and project monumentality and power. The movement had a great impact on U.S. and European art in the 1950s. Art historian Irving Sandler divides abstract expressionists into two categories: gesture painters and colour-field painters. Jackson Pollock remains the pre-eminent gesture painter; as in Cathedral (1947), Pollock avoided recognizable symbols entirely, composing delicate webs of interpenetrating shapes. Colour-field painters, on the other hand, suppressed all references to the past by painting unified fields of varying colour. Some of the most popular expressionist artists were Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and de Kooning.