Abstract Expressionism Essay

1647 words - 7 pages

Abstract Expressionism

"New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new
ways and new means of making their statements ... the modern painter
cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in
the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture."
Jackson Pollock

Rarely has such a massive transfer of influence has ever touched the
world as did in the Paris to New York shift of the 1940's and 1950's.
All of the characters of American art were to be expelled in a rapid
shift of power. No longer would American artists be the lamb suckling
at the teat of European sources, American art was to dispose of
narrow-mindedness, an uninterested public, and liberate itself into a
valued and meaningful force equal to, and in fact exceeding that of,
art produced anywhere within the era. The painting and sculpture that
emerged from the 'New York School' in the mid 1940s was the foremost
artistic movement of its time. It was labelled as the Abstract
Expressionist movement. This is a turning point in American art
history for the reason that it caused the rest of the art world to
recognize New York as the new center of innovation.

The outbreak of World War Two had devastated the world massively,
crushing world economies, social structure and optimistic manifestos
left, right and centre. The war had long ruled out any naïve
enthusiasm for art or artist, art no longer had the courage to be a
vehicle for ideology of any kind. European art took a more realist
stance post-war and the Paris scene delved into accuracy and
subjective art. The demand for art increased as financial affluence
returned to the world, particularly America which (having entered the
war later than most Allies) had not been so damaged economically and
socially by the war. America had not suffered extensive bombing like
Europe and was prepared to invest in art 'Modern art became a modern
and popular affair' (Mid-Century Paintings in the USA by)
Technological advances like progress in printing and reproduction
methods brought art to a larger amount of the public, no longer was
art a fad or declaration of wealth owned only by the elite. Government
grants, banks churches and communities began to reward artists for
works in exhibition and fund displays; this insured that a steady flow
of art and artists were drawn from shell-shocked Europe to America
where prosperity reigned supreme.

New York began to expand its own confidence rather than mimicking
styles from Paris. Cocky and brash; the American artists began to
shake off their European influence and claim themselves as the new
superior art force. Within a few short years and without many groups
becoming aware of it New York had displaced Parisas a world centre of
the arts. Something that arguably still exists today (however capitals
such as London have begun to take centre-stage).

During this period a small section of artists had the courage to

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