Abstract Expressionism refers to a period of art based in New York dating from 1940s - 1950s. It is a post war movement and was most probably influenced by the influx of Avant Garde European artists and Surrealists landing in New York in the 30s and 40s while fleeing Nazi Germany. These refugee artists exposed local artists to new experimentational work that was happening In Europe at that time. It was the first art movement to propel American art into an international sphere and place New York firmly at the centre of Western art, a role previously held by Paris.
The term was first coined in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturn regarding German Expressionism and was later used to describe the work of Wassily Kandinsky who is generally considered as the pioneer of abstract art. Abstract Expressionists produced work that resists being defined by a united style but instead the artists used abstraction to convey strong emotional or expressive content. The art itself tends to be large scale and doesn’t conform to traditional processes in use of materials. For the period in which it existed abstract expressionism was seen by many to be an expression of freedom especially within a politically repressed America where the fear of communism permeated through society.
Though the movement is considered to have started with Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning. its earliest forerunners were considered to be Arshille Corky and Hans Hoffman. However abstract expressionist artists were based round small area of lower Manhattan in New York between the Walldorf Cafeteria to the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art to The Club, a loft where artists met to discuss and debate art late into the night. Jackson Pollocks studio was on 8th street, William de Kooning and Phillip Gustons were on East 10th and Franz Kline made the Cedar Street Tavern on University place his main base along with many of his contemporaries. The Cedar Tavern is considered by some historians to be the incubator of abstract expressionism due to the number of artists who gathered here at that time.
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Abstract Expressionists in History
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