action painting

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abstract expressionism

abstract expressionism, movement of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the mid-1940s and attained singular prominence in American art in the following decade; also called action painting and the New York school. It was the first important school in American painting to declare its independence from European styles and to influence the development of art abroad. Arshile Gorky first gave impetus to the movement. His paintings, derived at first from the art of Picasso, Miró, and surrealism, became more personally expressive.

Jackson Pollock's turbulent yet elegant abstract paintings, which were created by spattering paint on huge canvases placed on the floor, brought abstract expressionism before a hostile public. Willem de Kooning's first one-man show in 1948 established him as a highly influential artist. His intensely complicated abstract paintings of the 1940s were followed by images of Woman, grotesque versions of buxom womanhood, which were virtually unparalleled in the sustained savagery of their execution. Painters such as Philip Guston and Franz Kline turned to the abstract late in the 1940s and soon developed strikingly original styles—the former, lyrical and evocative, the latter, forceful and boldly dramatic. Other important artists involved with the movement included Hans Hofmann, Robert Motherwell, and Mark Rothko; among other major abstract expressionists were such painters as Clyfford Still, Theodoros Stamos, Adolph Gottlieb, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, and Esteban Vicente.

Abstract expressionism presented a broad range of stylistic diversity within its largely, though not exclusively, nonrepresentational framework. For example, the expressive violence and activity in paintings by de Kooning or Pollock marked the opposite end of the pole from the simple, quiescent images of Mark Rothko. Basic to most abstract expressionist painting were the attention paid to surface qualities, i.e., qualities of brushstroke and texture; the use of huge canvases; the adoption of an approach to space in which all parts of the canvas played an equally vital role in the total work; the harnessing of accidents that occurred during the process of painting; the glorification of the act of painting itself as a means of visual communication; and the attempt to transfer pure emotion directly onto the canvas. The movement had an inestimable influence on the many varieties of work that followed it, especially in the way its proponents used color and materials. Its essential energy transmitted an enduring excitement to the American art scene.


See M. Seuphor, Abstract Painting (1962, repr. 1964); I. Sandler, The Triumph of American Painting (1970); M. Tuchman, ed., The New York School (rev. ed. 1970); D. Ashton, The Unknown Shore (1962) and The New York School (1973); S. Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art (1983); W. C. Seitz, Abstract Expressionist Painting in America (1983); F. Frascina, ed., Pollock and After (1985); D. Anfam, Abstract Expressionism (1990); S. Polcari, Abstract Expressionism and the Modern Experience (1991); A. E. Gibson, Abstract Expressionism: Other Politics (1997); D. Craven, Abstract Expressionism as Cultural Critique (1999).

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action painting

a development of abstract expressionism evolved in the 1940s, characterized by broad vigorous brush strokes and accidental effects of thrown, smeared, dripped, or spattered paint
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Gulgee was also known to use large canvases as compared to other action painting and abstract artists.
Pollock liked the term "action painting" because he used so much energy and moved around a lot when he painted.
Where else should this be, especially when years ago he woke his own Kurdish people with that deafening action painting of the schoolchilderen" And wouldn't it be wonderful for the Kurdish nation to have that kind of monument with a proper Khayat "museum" right there--the more so since he is and will forever be one of the finest Kurdish painters of all times"
In the visual arts, renovating movements arrived from other countries: informalism, abstraction, destructive art, action painting, pop-art, and op-art.
The large works, as they appear in the video, are created in the spirit of action painting, the 20th Century American Movement where artists like Jackson Pollack spontaneously throw, flick and jab paint directly onto canvases without a predetermined intention.
Kaprow characterized his work as action painting that left the canvas behind.
"In these textural works, Gulgee brings the Islamic calligraphy tradition to the modern practice of action painting such as that developed by the American artist Jackson Pollock," the museum said.
To make it vivid, you have to get down in it--working on it became for us like creating an action painting. All the horrific goings-on seemed less objectionable and more exciting, somehow, when there was more excess rather than less.
Applying those almost violent forces of pushing and pulling from the inside and outside is repeated many times; it is a vigorous process, a kind of dance or a ritual that the artist is performing around her work, reminiscent of action painting. In her way of working Beck succeeded to maintain a link with the wheel, she enlisted the centrifugal force to her intentional goal "to achieve an abstract sculptural vessel/non-vessel" as she puts it; at the same time she found a creative potential of exploring form.
But Action Painting storms out of bed in the second half in a hailstorm of guitars.
She has been greatly influenced by the abstract expressionist and action painting movements made famous by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, and Willem de Kooning.
I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass ..." (1), said Pollock about his expressive technique, which came to be known as action painting. The need to make an original statement, always at the heart of artistic and other human endeavor, permeated not only the subject matter of abstract expressionism but also its technical execution.

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