Abstract Expressionism

Written by Charles Peacock
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Abstract expressionism was one of the first forms of American art to gain true importance on the international stage. While it was inspired by European artists who immigrated to the United States, abstract expressionism gained notoriety and acceptance due to the work of the "New York School" of artists. These artists broke barriers and trend with their work in the 1940s, and the art world would never be the same.

The Ideas behind Abstract Expressionism

It is often said that abstract expressionism is more an attitude than a style of painting. It doesn't always have to be expressionistic, nor is it as a rule abstract. The main idea behind the genre was breaking boundaries and conventions.

Among the more important abstract expressionists were Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. These artists believed in freedom of expression, and were driven by the desire to revolt against the artistic establishment. In doing so, they created important works of art that were simultaneously beautiful and shocking.

The term "Abstract Expressionism" was coined in a 1936 issue of the New Yorker, by Robert Coates. As shocking as the work of these artists was, critics were quick to realize its potential importance, and they threw their weight behind it. Within a decade, artists like Pollock were celebrated around the world for their achievements.


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