Abstractism (1940-1950)

Abstract Expressionism is the term used for new forms of abstract art coming from American painters such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning in the 1940s and 1950s.

Franz Marc Blue Horse Huizer Art Center Jose Perez
Franz Marc -Blue Horse Huizer Art Center Jose Perez

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c4579644-5c6b-4c42-bf51-cce50861b5d1 by Robbert Veen

The Origins 

One of the many paradoxes of Abstract Expressionism is that the origins of the movement can be traced back to the figurative painting of the 1930s. Almost all the artists who would later become abstract artists in New York were influenced by the experience of the Great Depression. They became mature whilst painting in styles influenced by Social Realism and the Regionalist movements.

A Touch of Iowa at NGA
Mural, Jackson Pollock (1943).

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/fe0c7ecf-6ac6-41a3-be9d-30429caab5a1 by Phil Roeder

Abstract Painting Features

Abstract Expressionism is famous for large-scale works distant from traditional processes. While Abstract Expressionism is studied for its advancements in painting, its ideas had a deep influence in many aspects of everyday life, including drawing and sculpture. Similarly, instead of having an interest solely in finished works, these artists focused on the process.

[ D ] Robert Delaunay - La Ville de Paris (1910-2)
Robert Delaunay – La Ville de Paris (1910-2)
Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/df224ee9-915a-43c8-bee8-5ae34372177d by Cea.

The shapes are employed in various ways to create a sensation of volume, and movement. These elements are fused into expressive patterns in order to depict real or supernatural phenomena.

Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), Still Life with Gingerpot II, 1911–1912
Piet Mondrian – Still Life with Gingerpot II 1911–1912

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/f84e0710-fa78-482e-b629-39d688ab794c by Tulip Hysteria / Go to albums

The Most Important Painters   

Here are the names of the best-known artists of this movement:

  • Paul Klee: he was a Swiss artist famous for his large body of works influenced by Cubism, Expressionism, and Surrealism;
  • Piet Mondrian: he was a Dutch painter, leading figure in the De Stijl movement, that focused on simple forms and colors,
  • Hans Arp: he was one of the main artists of Dada in Zurich;
  • Malevich: Russian artist that will found Suprematism.
  • Robert Delaunay: he was the author of the “Sun and the Moon” (1912), “Sun n. 2” (1912-1913), “The City” (1910).
Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), Victory Boogie Woogie (unfinished), 1942–1944
Victory Boogie Woogie (1942–1944), Kunstmuseum Den Haag- Piet Mondrian

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/1649f80c-7953-4762-8061-0b5cb08dd8e4 by Tulip Hysteria / Go to albums

La grande portugaise (1916) - Robert Delaunay (1885 - 1941)
La grande portugaise (1916) – Robert Delaunay (1885 – 1941)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/e5e05556-e5e6-4a19-b00f-ed1c24ba55ae by pedrosimoes7

Info source: https://www.britannica.com/art/abstract-art