• Characteristics of Abstract Expressionist Paintings-optical buzz, all-over composition, Matisse sometimes painted images on large canvases, as did Picasso but paintings still retained an object like character- the viewer needed to stand back to see the complete composition. Abstract expressionist paintings, on the other hand, draw the spectator into them. The field of vision is thus larger than the field of vision of the spectator, who finds himself in a world beyond measurement (class handouts) "Portable Mural"
Location- Generally, due to severity of totalitarian regimes of Europe, modernist artists were forced to flee Europe in order to continue their art. This meant a shift from the art capitol of the world being Paris to NYC.
Aim- to attempt to project images from then unconscious. The painting does not express the feelings- it provokes them. (Herbert Read, 1980) Abstract Expressionism or 'Action Painting' differed from other phases of modern art because it had a different 'motive for extinguishing the object' (Hugh Honour & Fleming, 1991) also to react against shallow popular culture; pressure to conform to this. Not entirely expressionistic- the paintings have a life of their own, and exist therefore as things independent of the artists subjective feelings. (Herbert Read, 1980)
• Jackson Pollock- Leading abstract expressionist painter.
Attitudes and Mental States- Disturbed and melancholic - archetypal American loner- raw violent and consumed by neuroses and frustration. He was not a naturally gifted painter and wrestled in rage and fury at his inability to master traditional techniques. Comes to him that he could find fulfilment by exteriorising this struggle, by making the act of painting its own subject.
Influences- his familiarity with south-west Indian art, especially sand painting was to remain with him always and re-emerged as a seminal influence in his paintings. Pollok owed his "radical new sense of freedom"
Bibliography: Hugh Honour and John Fleming, A World History of Art, 1991, Laurence King Ltd., London Herbert Read, A concise History of Modern Painting, 1980, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London Edward Lucie-Smith, Movements in Art Since 1945, 1985, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London Factory People (documentary), 2008 American Visions- The Empire of Signs (documentary), Robert Hughes, 1997 Class handouts