by Robert McIntosh6 February '19
Abstract Expressionism - American painters of New York City
American abstract art of the 1940s and 1950s
Abstract Expressionism, as part of abstract art, is a term applied to a movement in American painting that flourished in New York City after World War II, sometimes referred to as the New York School or, more narrowly, as action painting. The varied work produced by the Abstract Expressionists resists definition as a cohesive style;
American art in the 1950s
Abstract Expressionism emerged in a climate of Cold War politics and social and cultural conservatism. World War II had positioned the United States as a global power, and in the years following the conflict, many Americans enjoyed the benefits of unprecedented economic growth. But by the mid-1950s the spirit of optimism had morphed into a potent mix of power and paranoia fueled by the fear of Communist infiltration. One scholar later reflected: “It is ironic but not contradictory that in a society…in which political repression weighed as heavily as it did in the United States, abstract expressionism was for many the expression of freedom: the freedom to creative controversial works of art, the freedom symbolized by action painting, by the unbridled expressionism of artists completely without fetters.”
Abstract Expressionist Artists in New York City
Abstract Expressionism marked the beginning of New York City’s influence as the center of the Western art world. The world of the Abstract Expressionist American artists was firmly rooted in Lower Manhattan, were color field painting style of abstract painting emerged during the 1940s and 1950s. Jackson Pollock’s studio was on East 8th Street, Willem de Kooning’s and Philip Guston’s were on East 10th, and Franz Kline at the Cedar Street Tavern on University Place. Barnett Newman at 47 Horatio Street in the West Village. Lee Krasner at the Springs, East Hampton and Hans Hofmann studio at 53 East 9th Street. In 1940, American painter Robert Motherwell came to New York City and joined the group. The group of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline — set out to change the face of American painting. These painters renounced the prevalent American style, believing its realism depicted only the surface of American life.