Abstract Expressionism

Jackson Pollock Untitled (c. 1950)
Jackson Pollock
Untitled
(c. 1950)

Abstract Expressionist painters explored new ways of creating art, reinvigorating and reinventing the medium. They changed the nature of painting with their large, abstract canvases, energetic and gestural lines, and new artistic processes. Many artists experimented with nontraditional materials, such as commercial paints and housepainter’s brushes. Artists also developed new techniques to apply paint, such as moving the canvas from the easel to the floor and working on unstretched and unprimed canvas. With these unconventional ways of painting, the Abstract Expressionists sought new forms of self-expression and personal freedom in their work.

 

 

Jackson Pollock is perhaps the most well-known Abstract Expressionist, famous for his mural-sized action paintings. Placing the canvas on the floor, Pollock would drip, splatter, fling, and smear paint from all sides. But despite the seemingly spontaneous appearance of his paintings, Pollock, like other Abstract Expressionists, maintained a balance of chaos and control. For example, Franz Kline’s large black-and-white canvases seem impulsive and full of energy, but he often sketched the compositions out first. A critic once wrote of Pollock’s work, “It is easy to detect the following things in all of his paintings: Chaos. Absolute lack of harmony. Complete lack of structural organization. Total absence of technique, however rudimentary. Once again, chaos,” to which the artist replied, “No chaos, damn it.”1 Pollock claimed that he maintained control when making his drip paintings.

Conceptual Art

Sol LeWitt Geometric Figures within Geometric Figures 1979
Sol LeWitt
Geometric Figures within Geometric Figures
1979

Art that emerged in the late 1960s, emphasizing ideas and theoretical practices rather than the creation of visual forms. In 1967, the artist Sol LeWitt gave the new genre its name in his essay “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” in which he wrote, “The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.”

The use of instructions was a major strategy used by Conceptual artists. Among its principal originators was Sol LeWitt, whose instructions for several series of geometric shapes or detailed line drawings, made directly on the wall surface, sometimes took teams of people days or weeks to execute.

Cubism

Pablo Picasso Three Musicians Fontainebleau, summer 1921
Pablo Picasso
Three Musicians
Fontainebleau, summer 1921

An artistic movement begun in 1907, when artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque together developed a visual language whose geometric planes and compressed space challenged the conventions of representation in painting. Traditional subjects—nudes, landscapes, and still lifes—were reinvented as increasingly fragmented compositions. Its influence extended to an international network of artists working in Paris in those years and beyond.

Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, also known as Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973), was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. As one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a portrayal of the Bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian airforces at the behest of the Spanish nationalist government during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp are regarded as the three artists who most defined the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting, sculpture, printmaking and ceramics

Dada

Marcel Duchamp Bicycle Wheel New York, 1951 (third version, after lost original of 1913)
Marcel Duchamp
Bicycle Wheel
New York, 1951 (third version, after lost original of 1913)

An artistic and literary movement that grew out of dissatisfaction with traditional social values and conventional artistic practices during World War I (1914–18). Dada artists were disillusioned by the social values that led to the war and sought to expose accepted and often repressive conventions of order and logic by shocking people into self-awareness.

Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp (28 July 1887 – 2 October 1968) was a French, naturalized American painter, sculptor, chess player and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, conceptual art and Dada, although he was careful about his use of the term Dada and was not directly associated with Dada groups. Duchamp is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. Duchamp has had an immense impact on twentieth-century and twenty first-century art. By World War I, he had rejected the work of many of his fellow artists (like Henri Matisse) as “retinal” art, intended only to please the eye. Instead, Duchamp wanted to put art back in the service of the mind.

Expressionism

Otto Dix Self-Portrait (with Cigarette) 1922
Otto Dix
Self-Portrait (with Cigarette)
1922

An international artistic movement in art, architecture, literature, and performance that flourished between 1905 and 1920, especially in Germany and Austria, that favored the expression of subjective emotions and experience over depictions of objective reality. Conventions of Expressionist style include distortion, exaggeration, fantasy, and vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic application of color.

Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix (German: 2 December 1891 – 25 July 1969) was a German painter and printmaker, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war. Along with George Grosz, he is widely considered one of the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit.

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Fauvism

Henri Matisse The Red Studio Issy-les-Moulineaux, fall 1911
Henri Matisse
The Red Studio
Issy-les-Moulineaux, fall 1911

The style of painting practiced by les Fauves (French for “wild beasts”) in the early 20th century, associated especially with Henri Matisse and André Derain, whose works emphasized strong, vibrant color and bold brushstrokes over realistic or representational qualities

Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse (31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. Although he was initially labelled a Fauve (wild beast), by the 1920s he was increasingly hailed as an upholder of the classical tradition in French painting. His mastery of the expressive language of colour and drawing, displayed in a body of work spanning over a half-century, won him recognition as a leading figure in modern art.

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Minilmalism

Eva Hesse Repetition Nineteen III 1968
Eva Hesse
Repetition Nineteen III
1968

An artistic movement of the 1960s in which artists produced pared-down three-dimensional objects devoid of representational content. Their new vocabulary of simplified, geometric forms made from humble industrial materials challenged traditional notions of craftsmanship, the illusion of spatial depth in painting, and the idea that a work of art must be one of a kind.

Eva Hesse (January 11, 1936 – May 29, 1970), was a Jewish German-born American sculptor, known for her pioneering work in materials such as latex, fiberglass, and plastics. She is one of the artists who ushered in the postminimal art movement in the 1960s.

Pop Art

 

Andy Warhol Untitled from Marilyn Monroe 1967
Andy Warhol
Untitled from Marilyn Monroe
1967

A movement composed of initially British, then American artists in the 1950s and 1960s, which was characterized by references to imagery and products from popular culture, media, and advertising.

Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was an American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives. It is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist. Warhol’s art used many types of media, including hand drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture, film, and music. He was also a pioneer in computer-generated art using Amiga computers that were introduced in 1984, two years before his death. He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. He managed and produced The Velvet Underground, a rock band which had a strong influence on the evolution of punk rock music. He is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio, The Factory, was a well known gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons. Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, and feature and documentary films. He coined the widely used expression “15 minutes of fame”. Many of his creations are very collectible and highly valuable. The highest price ever paid for a Warhol painting is US$105 million for a 1963 canvas titled “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)”. A 2009 article in The Economist described Warhol as the “bellwether of the art market”. Warhol’s works include some of the most expensive paintings ever sold.

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