Sunday, April 6, 2008

Abstract Expressionism

I have not been on this page for a while-- it seemed as if nobody was even looking at it (see previous post). Although nobody has left a comment since then, I note that there have been a fair amount of hits on the page. Thusly, I think that I will post a few pictures.

We basically do not do abstract art in my classes, for a variety of reasons that I am not going to go into at the moment. Some of my students may assume that this is because I do not like abstract art. This is not necessarily true. While I find much of it to be questionable at best, I do actually like some of it.

Here are the two most important abstract painters of the mid-twentieth century, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. These two artists (with a handful of others), living and working in New York, basically defined what most people think of when they hear the term "abstract art".

Jackson Pollock is easily the best-known abstract painter to the public at large. This fact is largely due to the feature article that Life magazine ran on him him in 1949, skyrocketing him to fame. More recently, Pollock was the subject of the biopic "Pollock", starring Ed Harris. This is an excellent film, by the way, I highly recommend it.

(click on images below for a larger view)

Pollock, Male and Female, 1942

Pollock, She-wolf, 1943

Pollock, No. 32, 1950

Pollock, Lavender Mist, 1950

Willem de Kooning is less known outside of art circles. Within the art world however, many people feel that he was a better painter than Pollock, and de Kooning has been arguably much more influential to other painters in the last 50-60 years.

de Kooning, The Wave, 1944

de Kooning, Excavation, 1950

de Kooning, Woman V, 1953

de Kooning, Gotham News, 1955

Pollock died tragically behind the wheel in a drunk driving accident in 1956. De Kooning worked through the 1980s, but his work fell off as he suffered increasingly from Alzheimer's disease; he died in 1997, 93 years old.