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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Spotlight - When American Art found its expressionist wings

This month’s spotlight takes a summer vacation into the United States of America in the 1940s to 1960s, when American art found a style and voice.  We have all heard of Jackson Pollock, and some like his work on first sight.  I was going to write a spotlight of synaesthetic art – art in which the artist's five sense intermingle so that numbers are colours, and sounds have angular or rounded shape - but there is little to say which can be supported by evidence rather than opinions.  Abstract Expressionism possibly shows such parallels between form and meaning and emotion more tangibly.
From where did abstract expressionism emerge?  It grew from the 1930s in America, following an influx of artists displaced from Europe, at a time when America is thought of as going through an economic Great Depression, which may have been easy times relative to European post-war recovery.  
Image result for pollock   

Historically it was the first distinctive art movement that had grown in the USA.  It was born from seeds of European artist immigration, with influences of Surrealism, made fertile in America’s first public period of introspection.  The style appears at times to be celebrating the random, the chaotic, such as Jackson Pollock, or to be austerely formal while adhering to minimalism, such as Mark Rothko’s areas of sombre colours layered on colours upon colours.  In Abstract Expressionist the act of painting, and its result, were to convey currents of emotions in society going through recovery and re-shaping.  Technically the works are higly layered. Part of Abstract Expressionist work was exploring what shape to take.  And to express and encourage personal reflection.
Image result for Barnett Newman

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