See also:  [Action Painting (art technique)`

Abstract Expressionism (?dates?)

Abstract expressionism basically extends the concepts of symbolism and expressionist painting styles. As with all modern art-work, it most often builds on what has come before. The ENV into which abex came was that of the post World War I (ie, "The Great War", "The War to End all Wars", and of course the first "modern war" - implements of mass destruction). Abstraction had already been investigated by the cubists as well as the symbolists. However, with cubism it reflected the idea of multiple views of the same object from different POV's - a direct result of the camera. As regards symbolism, this tradition is found in all periods and world areas of art. If we think of the Ancient Egyptian murals and Horus using a feather to measure the weight of a person's heart (soul) to judge whether they are worthy to continue into the "next world", then we see that the feather has a meaning of the scribe's quill-pen well and thus wisdom, learning, and of course ultimately morality. In fusing particularly symbolism and the looser style of cubism, abex sought to express directly and rapidly the ideas of intensity and depths of emotions of the artist. As such, abex is immediately obvious *as* expressionist in a more classical style. We might directly see abex as the joy of pure creativity as oft expressed by artists of all ages; but most especially that of children. Thus, unlike the renaissance style of "immedial" or "realistic art", the abex style is "hypermedial" - the hand of the artist is clearly seen; this will disappear later in the works of the minimalists. The force of emotion is often so bold in the work as to overpower even compositional details or over-all design. It won't be until the advent of graphic art later in the 20th (1900c) century that the use of this "action painting" will find a new form of expression. But, that's another story....

Extracting Expressionism

Clearly all art IS expressionist - even photography and reaslism/naturalism where the hand of the artist ISN't apparent. We may say that in the case of the less abstract works, that the very choice of subject matter and the manner in which it is depicted IS the expression of the artist. Of course, in the case of commisioned works the whatness and howness of the work may be strictly guided. Note that any any case where the work is commisioned for public consumption (eg, design of a transit station, ritual objects in tribabl works, etc) this "freedom" of the artist is usually at the most restricted. One only has to contemplate the murals of the Chicago Station where Diego Rivera's (pro-socialist and even a bit pro-soviet) glorification of the worker - which were later painted over by the owner; one of the Rockerfellers. ??verify?? Thus, again and again we are confronted with the *context* within which the work was done - echoing Umberto Eco's dictim that "Context is King". This has several aspects: 1. The style at the time. This is the kinds of work or working methods that the artist is pursuing at the moment. 2. Recent events; which we may often take as starting out as a random input. 3. The level of "directness" that the work has as part of it; eg, for a show, for a commission, what other artists are doing. We might view that i'm just begging the question with my word "directness", above. Everything that an artist has done before necessarily carries forward with the possibilites of new work. In this, a lot of it has to do with how the artist has viewed their work in that context before. For example, as the biomorphic form in surrealism spread, and varous artists took up exploring that method - it either did or did not appeal to them. Take for example a comment made to Gorky that some of his recent works resembled Picasso's (he was continually accused of copying Picasso - who as with all things had come to dominate the landscape; one can't do relativty or Guernica and not go un-noticed). To which Gorky replied sheepishly, "Yes, i'm thinkng about Picasso lately." The idea of course, was that something that he either seen in Picasso's works or the biomorphic form intrigued him. Thus, we get things like "Garden in Sochi". This shouldn't surprise us since things like the African (Dogan) Masks and Japonese Prints were exhibited in Paris, and all of a sudden these begin to make there way directly into art of the time. Notably is the use of this motif by (again) Picasso in "Les Madesemels d'Avinoun" ??sp??. Thus, these "trends" of the time are essentially EVENTS in the life of the artist. Thus, i would (hesitantly, lest it be yet another tiresome acronym) introduce: Context = S.E.D. Style Events Directness Naturally, i reall mean that the s,e,d's are elements OF context and not all that it is.

The Usual Suspects

Robert Delaunay Sonia Terk-Delaunay (and simultaneous painting)

Modernist interpretations

The Irracibles (That GANG of thugs) Ed Harris (actor/director/artist) PROTO AB-ex'er's Robert Delaunay Sonia Delaunay FULL AB-EX, AHEAD! Lee Krasner () (who the hell she IS "l.k."!) Barnett Newman () (Bon Vivant! And WHAT is with the zipper?) Jackson Pollock () (Jack the Dripper) Ad Reinhardt () (Simply elegant; simple, is) Harold Rosenberg () (art critic) Mark Rothko () (The field of our dreams)