Reader's Encyclopedia

abstract expressionism

One of the most important developments in American art; also called " action painting. " The movement, which began in the 1940s, was the result of a variety of influences, including the neo - expressionist works of Wassily Kandinsky, futurism, surrealism, dada, and Les Fauves. A group of European painters living in America, including Hans Hofmann, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Arshile Gorky (often loosely referred to as " The New York School " ) had an important catalytic effect on this phase of American painting. Highly individualistic and diverse in style, abstract expressionist paintings are generally large, nonrepresentational canvasses, using bold color, line, or isolated shapes in a free - associative way. The original response to such works was hostile, but by the 1950s, abstract expressionism had firmly established its international importance. Well known among the many painters associated with this style are Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, and William Baziotes.

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