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Abstract expressionism is a North American art movement in modern painting that became known primarily through the New York School in the late 1940s to early 1960s. Its main currents manifested themselves in action painting and colour field painting.
What all forms of abstract expressionism had in common was that feeling, emotion and spontaneity were more important than perfection, reason and regimentation. The mode of representation was abstract, sometimes also abstract-figurative. He adopted the Surrealist technique of automatism and the Cubist idea of two-dimensional spatiality.
Painting techniques were varied and the application of paint to the painting surface was carried out with brushes, palette knives, with the palm of the hand, with the help of perforated containers ("dripping") or buckets.
The founding director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Alfred Barr, characterised the second current of abstract painting - after Fauvism and Kandinsky - as "intuitive and emotional rather than intellectual, its forms are organic and biomorphic rather than geometric, curvilinear rather than rectangular, decorative rather than structural, and in its enthusiasm for the mystical, spontaneous and irrational it is romantic rather than classical".


Abstract Expressionism

In the United States, independent of the European development, action painting developed, with Jackson Pollock as its main representative, who dripped, trickled or hurled paint onto the canvas spread out on the floor (a technique already used by Max Ernst). Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler and the early Robert Rauschenberg also practised rapid spontaneous painting. The main representatives of meditative colour field painting (Colorfield Painting) are Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. Rothko painted large, often monochrome modulated colour fields with a meditative character, which cannot be grasped by the term expressionist, and who always denied that his paintings were abstract.
Other important abstract expressionist artists were Mark Tobey, Adolph Gottlieb, Arshile Gorky, Clyfford Still, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell. Ad Reinhardt is also attributed to this direction, although he distanced himself from it. In addition to the East Coast variant of the New York School, two Pacific variants emerged, the California School with Richard Diebenkorn and the Northwest School of abstract expressionism with Mark Tobey and Morris Graves as the most important representatives.




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