Abstract Expressionism

Julia Burger

What is Abstract Expressionism?

  • Started in 1940s in New York
  • "The New York School"
  • Spontaneity and improvisation
  • Dynamic and reflective

What sparked the movement?

  • Most artists started in the 1930s, when the Great Depression was in swing
  • Artists did not find place in Regionalism or Social Realism
  • Museum of Modern Art opens in New York City in 1929
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim museum opens in 1939
  • Museums like this allowed Abstract Expressionists to see and be influenced by the works of artists like Picasso and Matisse, as well as styles like Surrealism, Cubism, and Abstract.
  • The war sparks concern in artists, who want to express this through their work

Joan Mitchell

  • Born in Chicago, lived between France and New York
  • Supported young artists by allowing them to stay with her in her home in Vétheuil
  • Joan Mitchell Foundation: support for individual artists
  • Attended School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Husband: Barney Rosset
  • Participated in “9th Street Show” in 1951
  • Known as a leading American Abstract Expressionist, despite her young age
  • Oil paint on canvas
  • Professional period began on 1950s
  • Painted at night, in solitude (except for her dogs), slowly and carefully
  • “She transformed the gestural painterliness of Abstract Expressionism into a vocabulary so completely her own that it could become ours as well.” -Klaus Kertess

Alma Thomas

  • Born in Columbus, Georgia, lived and worked in Washington, D.C.
  • Studied watercolor and color theory
  • Shows rhythm in her works, inspired my movements and patterns in nature
  • Faced many barriers as a black, female artist
  • Taught art to middle schoolers for thirty years
  • First black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York (1972)

Corinne Michelle West

  • Born in Chicago, lived in Ohio, then New York City
  • Attended Cincinnati Conservatory of Art and Cincinnati Art Academy
  • Painted under the name 'Michael West' in order to gain respect from fellow Abstract Expressionists
  • Painted in a cubist style like Picasso and Juan Gris
  • Wrote poetry, related it to paintings
  • Visited by Jackson Pollock and Peggy Guggenheim
  • Her art in the 50s showed extreme movement with intersecting lines and planes
  • Her art in the 80s showed white cryptic calligraphy
What is Abstract Expressionism?