Art Movements: Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism. Firstly, this is one of the biggies for me. Although it began slightly earlier, it is best recognised as centred in New York in the late 1940s and 1950s. It was also known as the New York School. This style delights as many people as it horrifies. Essentially, it is Art that is created in the subconscious. Art that is “felt” while it is being created. This is how I paint for example. In other words, painters are trying to convey moods and inner feelings rather than painting a picture that looks like something (figurative). Higher meanings are sought. The works are spontaneous, free, flowing.  So a work can be dark and menacing or in your face loud. Or quiet and still.


This movement has a few leading luminaries. Mark Rothko. Jackson Pollock. Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline.  Clyfford Still. De Kooning, Kline and Pollock were more action painters, rapid fire brushstrokes, quick hand gestures. Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Still were more contemplative, focusing on religion and myth for inspiration. Prices for these artworks are now totally staggering. One of the highlights of my life was seeing the Abstract Expressionists exhibition in the UK in 2016. I didn’t blog about it at the time. Seeing it twice was mandatory, as I simply couldn’t take it all in at one visit. I was blown away by de Kooning, mesmerised by Still, enraptured with Rothko. As per usual. I vowed there and then, that when it is within my power, I’ll go visit the Rothko Chapel. It will be my homage to the great man.

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