1-12 of 12 results  for:

  • Expressionism x
  • 1900–2000 x
  • Abstract Expressionism x
Clear all

Article

David Anfam

Term applied to the work of American Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and, by extension, to the art of their followers at home and abroad during the 1950s. An alternative but slightly more general term is gestural painting; the other division within Abstract Expressionism was colour field painting.

The critic Harold Rosenberg defined action painting in an article, ‘The American Action Painters’ (1952), where he wrote: ‘At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act. …What was to go on canvas was not a picture but an event’. This proposition drew heavily, and perhaps crudely, upon ideas then current in intellectual circles, especially in the wake of Jean-Paul Sartre’s essay L’Existentialisme est un humanisme (Paris, 1946; Eng. trans., 1948), which claimed that ‘there is no reality except in action’. In the 1940s Herbert Ferber, Barnett Newman and others had already characterized their creative process in similar terms; Rosenberg was probably also inspired by photographs of Pollock at work (rather than the actual paintings) that emphasized his apparent psychological freedom and physical engagement with materials (e.g. ...

Article

Judith Zilczer

Term applied to a group of American artists active in San Francisco from 1950 to the mid-1960s who forged a vibrant brand of figurative expressionism. Originating in the studios and art schools of postwar San Francisco, the movement transcended its regional identity to attain national recognition as a major trend in mid-20th-century American art.

Around 1950, painters David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn and James Weeks (1922–98) adapted the gestural style and painterly techniques of Abstract Expressionism to create luminous canvases devoted to recognizable subjects including genre scenes, figure paintings and the local landscape of the Bay Area. These four “founders” were soon joined by slightly younger artists—Nathan Oliveira, Paul Wonner (1920–2008) and Theophilus Brown (b 1919), as well as former students Joan Brown (1938–90), Bruce McGaw (b 1935) and the lone sculptor, Manuel Neri (b 1930). Although Park and his fellow artists would deny they had created a new movement, their shared sensibilities resulted in the cohesive style and widespread influence of the Bay Area Figurative school....

Article

Corinne Robins

(b New Orleans, LA, May 6, 1926).

African American painter. Edward Clark experienced the excitement of being part of the younger generation of Abstract Expressionists and over a period of 50 years built up a solid body of work that has made something both unique and original out of his commitment to Jackson Pollock’s (1912–56) principles of action and spontaneity.

Born in New Orleans in 1926, Clark grew up in Chicago and, after studying at the Chicago Art Institute, took advantage of the GI Bill and went to Paris. There, he enrolled in the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in 1951 and by 1952 came under the influence of Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) and of Cubism. In 1954, the American Center for Students and Artists became interested in the artistic activity in Montparnasse studios and presented an exhibition titled Grandes Toiles de Montparnasse, in which Clark participated and was described in a review in ...

Article

David Anfam

Term referring to the work of such Abstract Expressionists as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still and to various subsequent American painters, including Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella, Jules Olitski, and Helen Frankenthaler. The popularity of the concept stemmed largely from Clement Greenberg’s formalist art criticism, especially his essay ‘American-type Painting’, written in 1955 for Partisan Review, which implied that Still, Newman, and Rothko had consummated a tendency in modernist painting to apply colour in large areas or ‘fields’. This notion became increasingly widespread and doctrinaire in later interpretations of Abstract Expressionism, until the movement was effectively divided into ‘gesturalist’ and ‘colour field’ styles despite the narrow and somewhat misleading overtones of each category.

Among the main characteristics of Abstract Expressionist colour field painting are its use of hues close in tonal value and intensity, its radically simplified compositions, and the choice of very large formats. From the later 1950s ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Philadelphia, PA, Jan 14, 1939).

American painter. Fishman is an abstract painter who came of age at the end of the 1960s when Abstract Expressionism was the dominant mode of painting and the Women’s Movement was gaining momentum. She attended the Philadelphia College of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, eventually receiving her BFA and BS degree from Tyler School of Fine Arts. There she received two senior prizes—the First Painting Prize, Student Exhibit, Tyler School of Art, and the Bertha Lowenberg Prize for the Senior Woman to Excel in Art (1963). She went on to receive her MFA from University of Illinois in Champaign (1965); that same year, she relocated to New York City. She received numerous grants and fellowships, including National Endowment for the Arts grants (1975–6; 1983–4; 1994); a Guggenheim Fellowship in Painting (1979); a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire (...

Article

Whitney Chadwick

(b Balagne, Jan 4, 1896; d Paris, Oct 28, 1987).

French painter, draughtsman, printmaker, and stage designer. His work played an important role in the development of both Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, although his independence, iconoclasm, and abrupt stylistic transitions make him difficult to classify. Masson was admitted to the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts et l’Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Brussels at the age of 11. Through his teacher Constant Montald, he met the Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren (1855–1916), who persuaded Masson’s parents to send him to Paris for further training. Masson joined the French infantry in 1915 and fought in the battles of the Somme; he was gravely wounded, and his wartime experiences engendered in him a profound philosophy about human destiny and stimulated his search for a personal imagery of generation, eclosion, and metamorphosis.

Masson’s early works, particularly the paintings of 1922 and 1923 on a forest theme (e.g. Forest, 1923; see Leiris and Limbour, p. 93), reflected the influence of André Derain, but by late ...

Article

Eric M. Wolf

( Houston )

American art collection that opened in 1987. In 2015 the collection contained approximately 17,000 objects, specializing in modern and contemporary art (with particular strength in Surrealism, School of Paris, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, and Minimalism), antiquities, Byzantine art, and the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. While the vast majority of works in the museum come from the collection of its late founders, John and Dominique Menil, de, the museum continues to collect and grow its art collection.

The main building was designed by architect Renzo Piano and was his first solo museum commission (he had previously partnered with Richard Rogers in the design of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris) and his first commission in the USA. In 2013 this building won the Twenty-Five Year Award of the American Institute of Architects, recognizing architectural design of lasting significance. Sited in a residential neighbourhood in Houston’s Montrose district, the modestly scaled museum building is surrounded by bungalows, houses, and smaller satellite galleries creating a campus-like environment. These surrounding properties are owned by the Menil Foundation and are painted a grey matching that of the wooden cladding on the main building. The museum features the first iteration of Piano’s signature glass roof, here suspended over large ferro-concrete ‘leaves’ or fixed louvres, which regulate the natural light entering the galleries. In addition to gallery space, the main building contains a conservation laboratory with studios for painting, object, and paper treatment, a research library, archives, museum offices, and the second floor ‘treasure rooms’, a sort of curated art storage making a large portion of the museum’s collection immediately available to curatorial staff and visiting scholars....

Article

Robert Saltonstall Mattison

(b Aberdeen, WA, Jan 24, 1915; d Princetown, MA, July 16, 1991).

American painter, printmaker, and editor. A major figure of the Abstract Expressionist generation (see Abstract Expressionism), in his mature work he encompassed both the expressive brushwork of action painting and the breadth of scale and saturated hues of colour field painting, often with a marked emphasis on European traditions of abstraction.

Motherwell was sent to school in the dry climate of central California to combat severe asthmatic attacks and developed a love for the broad spaces and bright colours that later emerged as essential characteristics of his abstract paintings. His later concern with themes of mortality can likewise be traced to his frail health as a child. From 1932 he studied literature, psychology, and philosophy at Stanford University, CA, and encountered in the poetry of the French Symbolists an expression of moods that dispensed with traditional narrative. He paid tribute to these writers in later paintings such as ...

Article

David Anfam

(b New York, Jan 29, 1905; d New York, July 4, 1970).

American painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer. He was a major exponent of Abstract Expressionism whose reductive idiom employing large chromatic expanses exerted a considerable impact on abstract art after World War II. His writings and pronouncements also contributed to the accompanying theoretical debates during and after the 1960s about meaning in non-figurative expression.

After studies at the Art Students League, New York, in 1922 and 1929 Newman destroyed most of his basically realistic initial output and stopped painting by about 1939–40. He explained that the world historical crisis then had rendered traditional subject-matter and styles invalid, necessitating the search for a new, awe-inspiring content appropriate to the moment. A series of essays and catalogue introductions throughout the 1940s reiterated this aesthetic quest. Their polemical stance focused upon the need for a break with outworn European traditions (including such native continuations as American Scene painting), chaos as a wellspring of human creativity, and the irrelevance of beauty in times of terror. Instead, he resurrected the venerable concept of the Sublime for a metaphysical ‘art which through symbols will catch the basic truth of life which is its sense of tragedy’ (‘The Plasmic Image’, unpublished essay, ...

Article

Bonnie Clearwater

[Rothkowitz, Marcus]

(b Dvinsk, Russia [now Daugavpils, Latvia], Sept 25, 1903; d New York, Feb 25, 1970).

American painter and draughtsman of Russian birth. He was one of the major figures of Abstract Expressionism and an important influence on the development of Colour field painting.

In 1913 he immigrated with his mother and sister to the USA, where they were reunited with his father and two older brothers, who had settled in Portland, OR, a few years earlier. As a youth in Portland, Rothko excelled scholastically and in particular pursued interests in literature, music, and social studies. From 1921 to 1923 he attended Yale University on a scholarship, but he left in his third year without graduating. He moved to New York, where he sporadically attended a few courses at the Art Students League, including a painting class with Max Weber, which constituted his only formal training in art. Essentially self-taught, Rothko educated himself by attending exhibitions and visiting the studios of artists such as Milton Avery, whose paintings of simplified forms and flat areas of colour suggested possibilities for Rothko’s own work....

Article

David Anfam

(b Grandin, ND, Nov 30, 1904; d Baltimore, MD, June 23, 1980).

American painter. His best-known work is associated with Abstract Expressionism, although he had established the basis for a strongly original style and outlook before any contact with New York art circles. His early life was divided between Washington state, where he was educated, and a prairie homestead in southern Alberta, Canada. Domestic tensions and the vicissitudes of farm life added an embattled note to his rugged though sensitive intellect. He was also deeply influenced by the vast flatness of the Canadian landscape, which became more desolate during an extended period of drought and depression after 1917. Early paintings such as the Row of Grain Elevators (1929; Washington, DC, Smithsonian Amer. A. Mus.) depict the agricultural environment of the prairies in a vigorous, somewhat crude manner reminiscent of Regionalism (see Regionalism). Yet they also stress the symbolic polarities that the artist described as the ‘vertical necessity of life’ rising against the horizontal, so that the anatomy of the human figure remained a seminal concern. Among other early stylistic traits were the reduction of form to essentials, compositions often structured around a central mass and the device of animating sombre colour schemes with small bright accents. Throughout his career, Still produced many works on paper....

Article

H. Alexander Rich

(b Segovia, Spain, June 20, 1903; d Bridgehampton, NY, Jan 10, 2001).

American painter and teacher of Spanish birth. One of the last surviving members of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Vicente arrived in New York from Spain as an innovative synthesizer of earlier European styles, working his way from portrait and nature painting through landscapes and Cubism before arriving at his mature New York School-inflected manner of large-scale abstract collage and stain paintings.

Born in Segovia, but growing up in Madrid, he was undoubtedly influenced by his father, a former military officer who also dabbled in painting and who often took his son to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Vicente enrolled at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de S. Fernando in Madrid to study sculpture in 1921.

Although sculpting occupied Vicente for three years at the Academy, where Salvador Dalí was a classmate, by the time he moved to Paris in 1929 Vicente had re-branded himself a painter. That same year, he showed his work for the first time in the Salon des Surindépendants. Vicente painted primarily from nature, composing landscapes that fused ...