American abstraction emerged from the background of Regionalism and Social Realism in the middle 1930’s.(1) The development and characteristics of Abstract Expressionism began with the Surrealist phase in which artists took an interest in myths and dream and in effect, unconscious creativity. From Expressionism, artists gained a passion for the “expressive qualities of paint.”(1) From Surrealism and Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism was born. Abstract Expressionism was a term used in 1929 by Alfred Barr, Jr. to refer to Kandinsky’s nonfigurative, nonrepresentational paintings.(1)
Arshile Gorky (1904 – 1948) was “the Abstract Expressionist painter who was most instrumental in creating a transition from European Abstract Surrealism to American Abstract Expressionism.”(1) “Somewhere between the years 1926 and 1936, Gorky painted The Artist and His Mother which suggested the influence of early cubism.”(1) In a completely different form than that of The Artist and His Mother in his oil canvas Garden in Sochi (1943).(1) this piece “exemplifies Gorky’s most characteristic innovations.”(1) Arshile Gorky took his own life at the age of 44.(2)
Jackson Pollock (1912 – 1956) was the best known of the “action” or “gesture” painters who were part of the New York School. “He began as a Regionalist and turned to Surrealism in the late 1930s and early 1040s. “(1) Around the mid 1940’s Pollock, created what has been termed “drip” painting by allowing a canvas to lie on a floor as he threw paint onto it.(3) “Pollock used his drip technique to produce his most celebrated pictures, in which he engaged his whole body in the act of painting.”(1) This technique became known as action-painting, which was first coined in 1952 by the American critic Harold Rosenberg (1906-78) in December edition of Art News.”(3) In 1951, at the height of his fame, Pollock abruptly ceased using his action painting method...