Abstract Expressionism was an art movement that emerged in America in the early 1940s. In the early 1940s, many artists and scholars moved from Paris, the capital of art, to New York to escape the war that was ravaging Europe, and their arrival had a profound impact on American art. The emergence of this art movement in the United States was related to the desire of New York to replace Paris as the world's art center. It was also the first modern art movement to have an international impact after World War II and almost became a symbol of the success of American art. It was the beginning of a long period of post-war stylistic experimentation and marked the dawn of a new era. Since then, America's international artistic status has increased dramatically, gradually taking over the position of Paris as the center of art.
Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg were two important art critics who, together with their advocates, created a movement of Abstract Expressionism in America, a style of non-realistic painting that combined abstract forms with the emotional values of Expressionist painters. Covering several distinct forms, the aim of this artistic movement was not only the desire to redefine the nature of painting but to create a new type of art in the process.
Abstract Expressionist painting was usually divided into two categories: action painting and color field. Action painting (movement painting), proposed by Rosenberg, was a style in which painters paint with intensity and exaggeration, with free and varied strokes and an emphasis on arbitrariness and randomness. Representative artists include Pollock and de Kooning. Color field, proposed by Greenberg, also known as (coloring abstraction), was a style that mainly emphasizes the color atmosphere and symbolic meaning or expressive power caused by the large color field. Representative painters include Rothko, Newman and Still.
Abstract Expressionism was art that flaunts individuality, has an inherent emotional temperament and was a fantasy of personal heroism. These painters included in the movement did not have much in common, except for the same abstract characteristics in their artistic style, and many of their works were diametrically opposed in form.
Art was considered by Abstract Expressionists to be abstract and mainly improvised. In terms of technique, the most important predecessor of abstraction was Surrealism. The concepts of unconsciousness, spontaneity and random creation emphasized by Surrealism were generally considered to be not aimed at depicting concrete things but conveying various emotions through points, lines, surfaces, colors, shapes, and compositions and stimulating people's emotions. In later times, this ideology was used continuously in Jackson Pollock's oil paintings that were randomly splashed on the floor. It is generally believed that Pollock studied the works of Max Ernst.
Abstract Expressionists did not need to refer to nature, nor did they need to adhere to past perceptions, but simply expressed their inner thoughts through variations in line, color and pattern. Abstract Expressionism had no theory or form and could be described as a painting of absolute freedom. Since America, where it originated, did not have many historical roots, there was no need to maintain a traditional style, and there was no need to deliberately maintain cultural traditions. In the social and spiritual aspects of the time, it was only logical that Abstract Expressionism was born in America.
The painting techniques of Abstract Expressionism are mainly improvisation. Because their paintings are generally very large in size, they seem to dominate the viewer. The larger the size of the painting, the more difficult it was for the artist to master the language of composition, proportion, rhythm, and so on. Most of the lines and colors on the canvas appear in the form of twists and spurts, and flows. The use of paint often leaves expressive traces, such as blocks of paint and rough brush strokes, which record the movements of the artists as they create. The different trajectories and strengths of arm-driven brush movements create a visual sensation of varying forms and dynamics.
Abstraction was in its own right because it expresses the emotional intensity of art, as well as the self-representation of the artists. This echoed the Expressionist anti-figurative aesthetic and some European art styles that emphasized abstract iconographies, such as Bauhaus, Futurism, or Cubism. Abstract paintings also tended to be rebellious, disorderly, and detached from nothingness.
Abstract painting has swept the world at a relatively fast speed since it came out a hundred years ago. The reason for this is that this style had not only changed the way people understood and observed the world but also expanded the function of painting so that it no longer satisfied aesthetic enjoyment, sensual pleasure, or moral obedience but focused more on the expression of the painter's inner feelings, which in turn resonated within the viewer.
Representative figures of Abstract Expressionism include Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, Ad Reinhardt, and Morris Louis.