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Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting

Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting

Author: Ian McConnell
Description:

This lesson will explore Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting.

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Tutorial

An overview of Abstract Expressionism: Action Painting and Color Field Painting.

Video Transcription

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Hello , I like to welcome you in this episode of exploring our history with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell and today's lesson is about Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting. As you're watching the video feel free to pause, move forward, or rewind as often as you feel is necessary. And as soon as you're ready we can began. Today's objectives are listed below. By the end of the lesson today you'll be able to identify and define today's key terms, describe the context that influence the development of abstract expressionism and identify examples of abstract expressionists artwork. Key terms are always are listed in yellow throughout the lesson.

First key term is abstract expressionism. American art movement characterized by the application of paint through techniques that revealed the artist's process and feelings, including throwing paint on canvas or dripping paint randomly. Action painting, a style of abstract painting characterized by physical applications paint, for example large smears, spilling, or splashes of paint on canvas. Color field painting, is a style of abstract painting characterized by large sections of color on the canvas in geometric shapes and patterns. Tachisme is a style of abstract painting characterized by random brush work, application of paint directly from the tube and doodling. And gesture painting a style of abstract expression painting that uses techniques to express temporal qualities.

The big idea for today is that the rise of the United States as a world superpower after World War Ii and the migration of artists and intellectuals to the United States were influential on the development of Abstract Expressionism. We'll be looking at works of art today from between 1944 and 1966. We'll be traveling to New York City today which is a central location for all the artists. We'll be looking at today. So abstract expressionism is considered the first American art movement in the context that followed the end of World War II. In a nutshell abstract expressionism is anti-figurative, rebellious, emotional, and a visual experience.

So the work of the artist Arshile Gorky marks a bridge of sorts between surrealism and abstract expressionism. He was influenced by the works on Picasso and Juan Gris, as well as the idea of automatism where works of are created spontaneously. It was an idea shared by Dada and surrealist artists that more meaningful forms could be created by bridging the unconscious with the conscious mind. This is believed to be achievable through psychic automatism. Although, the reality is that where these ideas may have been brought forth through automatism the translation of the canvas was hardly spontaneous. Works of art like Gorky's are carefully composed collection of forms.

The artist Villem or Willem de Kooning was a friend of Gorky's. And like Gorky's work, what may at first appear to be perhaps a jumbled or maybe amateurish representation of something, was actually very thought out and intentional. This painting in particular called Woman V was a carefully and skillfully painted depiction of what has been described, as perhaps, humanity, simultaneous, steamed four in fear, of feminine power. Now, unlike Willem de Kooning's long and productive life, Gorky's was tragically short. It spiraled downward into a series of emotional and physically damaging events before he took his own life at the age of 44. Now his passing cleared the way for his rival Jackson Pollock to become even more renowned in the artistic community and beyond.

Now Pollock is known primarily, for his development of, and contributions, to the style of painting known as action painting. Action painting was influenced by Mexican muralism. Pollack apprenticed with the Mexican artist David Siqueiros and learned about synthetic paints from him. And also influenced by Native American sand painting as Pollock saw a demonstration that had influenced him before. As well, as the surrealist influence of the aforementioned psychic automatism which culminated in the signature gestural and drip painting technique of Jackson Pollock. His forms developed rather spontaneously at the moment, as he mentioned it one time how we became lost in painting but was often reworked after the fact once he became better acquainted with it. Now like other abstract and expressionists works the forms aren't as important as the feelings they inspire.

The art critic Clement Greenberg was a very important figure in the art and literature communities at the time. A huge fan of the action painter Jackson Pollock, Greenberg was also an enthusiastic supporter of abstract expressionism. Flip side to action painting which is called color field painting. Now his 1939 essay describing the distinction between high art which is the Avant-Garde and Kitsch, or popular culture, was particularly influential in how he regarded abstract expressionism, is Avant-Garde and how it demanded more from its viewers in terms of education and resources versus Kitsch art or art for the masses.

His ideas of modernism were also quite influential in how he viewed true modernism as the act of using the methods of the discipline to critique it. Now an example of this would be in how modern art challenges the ideas of what art truly is. Kooning was one of the most important Avant-Garde artists working in New York, perhaps the most important of the 1950s. Artists like Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman challenge and resisted his influence in their development of a new form a painting called color field painting. And it was the first time of art that completely avoided any type of form, whatsoever.

Newman and Rothko were influenced by the writings of the philosopher Nietzsche and his idea of the tragically divided self. Now using this as inspiration, color field painting portrays fields of color coexisting within the same space, but distinct from each other. Although, very different from action painting it as a form of abstract expressionism in a modern style that strives to express transcendence and the infinite through art.

That brings us to the end of our lesson, let's take a look at our objectives again to see if we meet them. Now that you see the lesson, are able to identify and define case key terms? Can you describe the context that influenced the development of abstract expressionism, and identify examples of abstract expressionists artwork?

Once again, the big idea for today, so the rise of the United States as a world superpower after World War II in the migration of artists and intellectuals to the United States are influential on the development of abstract expressionism. And that is it. Thank you very much for joining me today. I'll see you next time.

Notes on "Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting"

Citations

Arshile Gorky, The Liver is the ****'s Comb, Fair Use According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gorky-The-Liver.jpg Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm, Fair Use According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Autumn_Rhythm.jpg Mark Rothko, No 61,(Rust and Blue), Fair Use According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:No_61_Mark_Rothko.jpg Barnett Newman, Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue? 1966, Fair Use According to Wikipedia,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Newman-Who%27s_Afraid_of_Red,_Yellow_and_Blue.jpg; replace with Woman 5 Willem de Kooning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kooning_woman_v.jpg

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Abstract Expressionism

    An American art movement characterized by the application of paint through techniques that revealed the artist's process and feelings, including throwing paint on a canvas or dripping paint randomly.

  • Action Painting

    A style of abstract painting characterized by physical applications of paint, for example large smears, spilling, or splashes of paint onto a canvas.

  • Color Field Painting

    A style of abstract painting characterized by large sections of color on the canvas in geometric shapes and patterns.

  • Tachisme

    A style of abstract painting characterized by random brushwork, application of paint directly from the tube and doodling.

  • Gesture Painting

    A style of abstract expression painting that uses techniques to express temporal qualities.