From 1945 onwards the art scene shifted from Europe to America, as a result of the damage done during World War II, and the emigration of artists,some of whom took the Bauhaas school to Chicago. They produced a new universal style, with great variety, of which the characteristics were hard to define, or label into schools or styles. Artists evolved, with facets of art going in and out of style quickly.
Transverse Line – Kandinsky
In New York, the art scene was trendy and nouveau riche – it was the thing to suggest that art was ‘new, radical and exciting’, or that it was ‘passe’. Socially there was a constant changing of lifestyle due to returned soldiers – home loans, mortgages, college studies all being the influential thing to be or do. There was very good and very bad art at the time, with many fashions – e.g. Op Art, Pop Art, Hard Edge Abstraction, Post-Painterly Abstraction, Hyperrealism, and Conceptual Art. Cultural traditions and fine art coming to New York evolved into a plastic culture – Neo-Dada and Pop Art were inevitable artistic expression with a specific relationship to life.
Abstract Expressionism: was a direct descendant of all abstraction from Van Gogh, and including Surrealism (non-figurative), Dada, theories on Automatism and Chance developments – the development of creative intuition. The centre of the Art World was wrenched away from Paris to New York, mainly because of money – art SOLD in America. Suburbs were spreading creating a relationship between the suburbs and the city – people went to galleries to buy paintings to go in their new houses. there were good jobs and good money.
It was art like Abstract Expressionism that was trendy, new and saleable, and therefore sought after. The affluence of the New York society ensured it was important, with the economic boom seeing artists as viable investments. Also sophisticates were looking for something exciting. It was a time of pure materialism – with the development of the art manager.
The Key – Pollock
Abstract Expressionism can be broken into two avenues:
1. Action Painting – was usually non-representational, though not always.
2. Colourfield – was almost always non-representational.
It was the first American art movement to dominate the world – energetic explosions on the canvas, with no recognisable subject except in De Kooning figures. It was the action of the painting that was important, not the finished work. The act of painting rather than the finished work, which the artist considered as dead, completed. It developed from the improvisational drawings of Dada, with its automation and ambiguous space. It incorporated Expressionism, Figurative and Non-Figurative Abstraction – influenced by the ideas of Kandinsky, Klee, and Miro.
Drip Painting – Pollock
Jackson Pollock: created the idea of the overall composition in which he never intended to have a central focal image. The creation of art was to extend beyond the canvas, and to create unity between the artist and his communication. he lost himself in his art – he lived in it. His thick application had a textural interest. he moved around on the canvas which covered the floor, flicking paint, pouring paint, sitting amongst it, walking across it. When he considered it finished he cut it up, stretched it onto frames and sold it. He was influenced by Picassos, Surrealists, as well as a Mexican Realist, Orozco.
Excavation – De Kooning
Willem De Kooning: was a house painter and carpenter, who transferred draftsman lines into a painterly gesture. He recorded the idea of creation and changes of mind by tracing the inspiration as it came. He drew with his paint brush, with the mind changes visible. He was influenced by Ongre (a Realist), Picasso, and Miro. He preferred the female figure to painting still lifes, and always tried to keep in touch with his image. Despite this, he’s considered an action painter because of the recording of the changes of mind. His works were characterised by bold brushwork and spontaneity.
They are sometimes called Abstract Imagists, as they focus on a single image, which could be line of colour that they blow up to produce fields of colour. These are devised to fill the field of the viewer’s vision. They produced a broad overall design or simple colour on very large canvases.
PH-21 – Still
Clyfford Still: was an art history teacher, who believed that artists should realise their own vision. He gave a sense of rough energy, almost volcanic, with strong visual impact in thick pigment. The contours appear eaten away creating a sense of power. He developed from Surrealism to Colourfield, but was always an independent.
Colourfield Paintings – Rothko
Mark Rothko: favoured a simple expression of a complex thought. He simplified back to geometric areas of colour, particularly rectangles, often with them bleeding into each other. It was a logical progressions from Mondrian. He attempted with scale and use of colour to overcome and involve the spectator, so they would lose themselves in the work. He played on the psychological effect of colour on the viewer.
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Jud House 11/10/2016
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