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Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art

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Emily Robicheaux

on 19 March 2014

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Transcript of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art

Abstract Expressionism
-Mid 1940's-1950's
-First strictly American art movement to gain international influence
-Characteristics: Dripping, smearing, slathering, and flinging
-Divided into two styles:
-Action painting (Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning)
-Color Field Painting (Mark Rothko)
-Reaction/attitude against traditional styles
-Artist have reliance on psychic self expression
POSTmodern movement: Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art
By: Emily Robicheaux, Erienne Terpak, Emma Becker, Tabitha Hsu, Alex Krach, Megan Li, Will Imwalle
Jackson Pollock
Introduced to liquid paint in an experimental workshop in 1936 by David Alfaro Siqueiro
Paint pouring as one of several techniques in 'Male and Female'
Later used drip painting style
Use of household paints instead of artist’s paints, hardened brushes, sticks, basting syringes as paint applicators
Pouring and dripping paint thought to be origin of action painting
Action Painting
-Able to achieve more immediate means of creating art
-Paint literally flowing onto the canvas
-Didn’t paint on an upright surface, defied convention
-View and apply paint to canvases from all directions
-influenced by:
§ -Janet Sobel
§ -Peggy Guggenheim
-Journey toward making a work of art was as important as the work of art itself
Mark Rothko
Abstract expressionism background
Willem de Kooning
Leading figure of action painting style
Started his first “Women” series in 1938, later continued in 1960's
Early 1950’s, he began creating abstract urban and rural landscapes
1970, sculpturing in bronze
Though equal to Pollock in talent and achievement, was less influential
Paintings fused Cubism, Surrealism, and Expressionism
Had strong pull towards traditional subjects, like women (he was pretty much a womanizer) and landscapes
Became master at blending and painted in stages, re-assembling and distorting his figures in the process
Left many paintings unfinished with a sense of dynamic incompletion (action painting)
-Emerged in US after World War II
-Understand concept of "deep" in 1950's slang in order to understand Abstract Expressionism.
-This concept of "deep" meant not embellished, not fragile
-Very "sensitive" movement
-Distress in artwork came from exposure to reports of horrors and pain that was endured throughout WW II
-Surrealist's emphasis of Freudian theory that embraces dreams and ego

abstract Expressionism artists
Pop Art Background
Pop art
Mid 1950's to early 1970's
Characteristics: bright colors, recognizable imagery, images of celebrities or fictional characters
Pop art presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising, news, etc
The concept of pop art refers not as much to the art itself as to the attitudes that led to it
Artists had an interest in mass-media, mass-production or mass-culture
Reaction to Abstract Expressionism
First appeared in Great Britain, can be traced even further in 1917
Marcel Duchamp believed that any object could be art, as long as the artist intended to be so
Artists built upon that to challenge boundaries distinguishing art from real life
"Pro-pop" artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenberg, reacted against the rigid critical structure and lofty philosophies surrounding Abstract Expressionism, the dominant art of the time
Also reflected numerous social changes taking place around them
Born on January 18, 1912 in Wyoming to an abusive alcoholic father, who left the family when Pollock was 8
Enrolled in the Manual Arts High School, where he learned to draw but could not express himself through his art
Eventually expelled for starting fights
Fell into deep depression in 1933 when his father passed away
Became seriously addicted to alcohol to the point where he needed to receive psychiatric treatment from a Jungian analyst who inspired his symbolism in his artwork
Died at age 44 crashing into a tree while intoxicated

Jackson pollock(1912-1956)
abstract expressionism historical background
During the Great Depression, Roosevelt started a project called 'Public Works of Art Project'
Artists like Pollock and de Kooning were given $24.86 to do 20 hours of work
Led to thousand of works by contemporaries
US government embraced the movement as a reflection of American individualism and nationalism
Promoted the movement as a form of political propaganda during the Cold War
Most artists in movement held convictions based on Marxist ideas of social and economic quality
abstract expressionism historical background
Barnett Newman: “we felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a world destroyed by great depression and a fierce World War…impossible…to paint…paintings…[with]flowers, reclining nudes, and people playing the cello.”
Growth of Fascism in Europe brought a wave of immigrant artists to the US in the 1930’s, gave Americans access to European modernism
Abstract Expressionists looked towards Carl Jung and his explanations of human behavior
Because of WW II, existentialism appealed to the abstract expressionist artists
The thought that an individual’s actions might give life meaning gave artist’s new creative processes
(Close up)
One: Number 31 (1950)
Jackson Pollock
Named based on how composers usually name their pieces, like Chopin’s Nocturne No. 22, didn’t want to label or have any text associated with the painting
Drips are intentional, not random so there is actually a right or wrong in hanging the painting
Laid canvas on floor and poured, dribbled, and flicked paint onto the surface with cans of paint that had holes on the bottom or squeezing straight from the paint tube
Action painting
Convergence (1952)
Jackson pollock
“It seems to me that the modern painter cannot express his age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or any other past culture. Each age finds its own technique.”
-Drip painting
-Left to viewer’s subconscious to decide meaning of piece
Mark rothko (1903-1970)
Born Mark Rothkowitz in Russia, immigrated to the US in his youth
Large-scale paintings of luminous colored rectangles and purposefully used
Simplified means to create emotional responses
In 1940’s, artistic subjects and styles changed from scenes of urban life to themed paintings of death and survival after World War II
Influenced by ideas of Surrealists
Diagnosed with heart trouble in 1968, suffered from depression
Committed suicide in his studio on February 25, 1970
His personal collection of nearly 800 paintings became center of long legal battle between his family and the executors of the will
Chose to number his canvases rather than to give them descriptive titles (like Pollock)
Categorized as “Colorfield Painting” because he chose to use broad, simplified areas of color rather than splashes and drips of paint
Less realistic, gives more experience of space to explore relationship between painter and viewer
Color and structure of painting inseparable, created depth and enriches work
Used flat forms because "they destroy illusion and reveal truth"
Influenced by reading Nietzsche, work seen as opposition between rational and abstract and the emotional, tragic, and primal
Incorporated ancient myths and religion into artwork
Rites of Lilith(1945)
Mark rothko
Background info:
Lilith: mythological first wife of Adam, legend described her as having a “base” nature and a taste for biting Adam and drinking his blood
She refused to submit to Adam’s authority, described as a winged serpent who murders infants and torments men at night who sleep alone
Has become a symbol to many feminists of the independent woman, who refuses to submit to the control of men. (incorporated Freud’s thoughts)
Example of incorporation of myth/religion
First appearance of large-scale canvas
Painted during Feminist movement
Meant to be “intimate” and “human”, for the viewer to be completely enveloped in the painting, wants them to encounter at close quarters so the first experience is to be within the picture
No. 61 (1953)
mark rothko
Rothko wanted his paintings to “breathe”
Looks simple, but use of color shows emotion and depth
“If our titles recall the known myths of antiquity, we have used them again because they are the external symbols upon which we must fall back to express basic psychological ideas.”
Use of indeterminate shapes
Willem de Kooning(1904-1997)
Dutch-born American painter
Born in the Netherlands in 1904 to a abusive mother who frequently had violent outbursts
Father divorced Kooning’s mother when he was 3 year old (no surprise there)
Immigrated illegally to New York in 1927, started out by working in NYC by taking various commercial art commissions and other odd jobs
Influenced by Arshile Gorky’s Surrealist style and by Picasso’s paintings
Fell in love with Elaine Fried, who had a reputation for collecting artist-boyfriends, each more successful than the last, had a dysfunctional relationship with her for the next 45 years, as both had innumerable affairs
Arshile Gorky’s suicide in 1948 hit de Kooning hard; influenced many of his works and he became a hardcore drinker
Died in Easthampton in 1997
Distortion of figure, layers of paint
Swiftly applied paint strokes (may look like a rapid, simple process but de Kooning actually worked on it in stages)
Features gestural abstraction and figuration
pop art
Woman (1948)
willem de kooning
Male and Female (1942)
jackson pollock
pop art artists
Reflects irony of pop
Image on gold background evokes a religious tradition of painted icons
Example of Warhol's tendency to place celebrities on pedestals
Reflects popular culture's obsession with celebrities
Warhol’s spiritual reference came from Monroe’s suicide a few months earlier
gold Marilyn Monroe (1962)
Andy Warhol
andy warhol(1928-1987)
Born in 1928 in Pittsburgh to Slovakian immigrants
Father, (coal miner), died when Warhol was 13
Suffered from a disorder that kept him bed-ridden and isolated from the other children at his school
Only person in his family to go to college and learn about silkscreening
Famous for his silkscreen artworks
Made over 300 underground films in his career
Founded the Factory in 1962 (an art studio where he employed art workers to mass produce prints and posters)
1968, Valerie Solanas, sole member of SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) shot Warhol in the Factory
Warhol survived but died of complications during his recovery in 1987
andy warhol
Emerged in the late 1950’s
Embodied spirit of American popular culture and upgraded its imagery to works that could be displayed in a museum
Used second hand images of celebs and consumer goods, thought they had been stripped of their meaning and emotional presence through mass-exposure
Famous for paintings of soup cans, soap boxes, cola bottles, etc.
Printmaking, videotapes, movies, Polaroid photography
Took ordinary everyday objects and made them interesting to look at
Began career as commercial illustrator, enjoyed making mono prints (“blotted ink” drawings)
Commercial artist, took commissions from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, etc.
Founder of the Pop Art movement in American art
Developed technique of projecting photographic image to a silk screen which allowed him to produce repetitive patterns with the same piece quickly
Typical works are of celebrities and everyday objects
Pop Art background
Art of popular culture
Sense of optimism during the postwar consumer boom of the 1950’s and 60's
Coincided globalization of pop music and youth culture (Elvis and the Beatles)
Different styles that were fun and young, hostile to existing artistic establishments, had mass-media, mass-production, and mass-culture in common
Reaction towards Abstract Expressionism because many felt that it had become too elitist and introspective
Attempted to reverse this trend by reintroducing the image as a structural device in painting, to pull art back from obscurity of abstraction into the real world again
Jasper Johns (1930-)
Does not distinguish between subject and object, thinks they are the same thing
Believes viewers should look upon a painting as an object with its own reality
Influenced by Dada ideas (“readymades”: bottle racks and bicycle wheels”), used them to challenge the definition of the art object
Use of neutral icons offered him exploration of visual and physical qualities of his mediums
Results: balance between representation and abstraction
Painted an encaustic, an archaic medium that dates from the first century, which combines pigment in hot wax
Combined encaustic with newspaper collage to create expanse of paint
Fascination with unity of surface place in a picture
Bridge between abstract expressionism and pop art
Prefers to leave painting up to viewer’s own conclusions
jasper johns
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)
Born in Port Arthur, Texas
Had a frugal mother who made the family’s clothes from scraps; this later influenced Rauschenberg’s artwork
Until age 13, planned to become a minister, but changed his mind after he learned his local church considered dancing a sin
-Attended UT at Austin but was expelled freshman year after refusing to dissect a frog
Experimented in his paintings and included objects on the surfaces, including parasols and parts of undershirts
Met Jasper Johns and started an artistic and romantic relationship with him
Johns' fame caused tension between Johns and Rauschenberg, ended his relationship with Johns in 1958
Interest in dance led to a ten year contract with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1954-1964)
Integrated images of space flight into his work in the 1960’s and transitioned to silk screening
Became an alcoholic and suffered a series of injuries
Died of heart-failure in 2008
Like Jacob Johns, also used ‘found images’
Work of Rauschenberg and Johns referred to Neo-Dada because it draws on ‘found elements’
Inspired by Schwitters who created collages from trash he picked up on the street
Combined real objects that he found in his NYC neighborhood with collage and painting
Called these multimedia projects ‘combines,’ “which had to look at least as interesting as anything that was going on outside the window”
Developed method of combining oil painting with photographic silkscreen, allowed him to experiment with contemporary images
Used these elements to reflect Americans’ experience of mass-media
Interested in changing perception and interpretation of images
Bridge between abstract expressionism and pop art
robert rauschenberg
colorfield painting
-Less about the process of making the work, which is at the heart of action painting
-Began around 1950, following Action Painters
-About tension created by overlapping and interacting areas of flat color
-Best known Colorfield painters: Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Jules Olitski
-Bright, local colors are presented in specific shapes that can be amorphous or geometrical, but not too straight-edged
-Emphasizes flatness of canvas or paper
Born in 1930 in Augusta, Georgia
Father left when he was an infant and mother unable to support him so he lived with his grandfather
Spent his childhood moving from relative to relative and his remarried mother
Graduated high school as valedictorian and went on to USC to study art
1951, drafted into the army, met Robert Rauschenberg
Johns and Rauschenberg had a romantic and artistic relationship and eventually lived together, inspiring each other
Well known for his object artworks (especially: Flag (1955))
Eventually split with Rauchensberg
Made headlines in August 2013 when his studio assistant was charged with theft of 6.5 million dollars worth of art
Currently moves back and forth between his studios in Sharon, Connecticut and St. Martin
Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962)
andy warhol
Represents object of mass consumption
Silkscreening, a printmaking method originally invented for commercial use
Warhol repeated the same basic soup can image on dozens of canvases
Hand-painted and stenciled the names of the individual soup types
“I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again. Someone said my life has dominated me; I like that idea.”
“combine" (1963)
robert rauchensberg
Picked up trash and found objects that interested him on streets of NYC
Had these objects integrated in this artwork
Combined collage technique and objects
Also used diverse kinds of paint applications of red paint and materials such as wood, nails, newsprint, and other materials to create complex painting surfaces
Flag (1954-1955)
jasper johns

Autobiographical reference (military hero whom he was named after, Sergeant William Jasper, raised the American flag during the Revolutionary War)
Signifies flatness and lack of depth in many modernist paintings
Nationalism(postwar reaction)
“Meaning” of piece subjective, fluid, open to reinterpretation
Fun and ironic
Mid 1950's-early 1970's
Born in Britain
Made for consumers
About pop culture & mass production
Artwork goes on advertisements
Attempts to tell you how you should feel
Spiritual & psychological
Late 1940's-1950's
Born in NYC
Emotional intensity and self denial
Art interpretation entirely up to viewer, not artist
Rooted in Surrealism
Artwork goes on large canvases that were laid on the floor
Attempts to provoke images and opinions from subconscious
Many artists influenced by Freud or Jung
why abstract expressionism?
Many European artists came to America during the 1930's to escape fascist regimes and years of warfare that left much of Europe in ruins
NYC: most important cultural center for this movement, due to the presence of a diverse group of European artists: Arshile Gorky, Piet Mondrian, Max Ernst
Freed themselves of atrocities from warfare, found their inspiration in psychological theories (Freud and Jung)
Elementary School Relationships
Events: 1940-1950
Cold War begins
President Truman issues warning to Japanese, asking them to surrender or face destruction
Anola Gay drops the two atomic bombs on Japan
North Korea invades South Korea, sparking the Korea War
Events: 1950's-1970's
Elvis Presley records "That's Alright Mama" and other singles
Disneyland opens up in California
Rock fans get some of their first anthems
Rosa Parks refuses to move to the back of the bus
Elvis Presley tops the charts
SANE, an anti-nuclear protest organization, demands nuclear disarmament
USSR launches Sputnik I and II
US is alarmed by Soviet Union's sudden advance and in reaction, establishes NASA
Barbie debuts
Berlin Wall is built
JFK assassinated
the Beatles get first US hit with "I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Star Trek begins airing on NBC
To achieve goal of instant meaning, pop artists experimented with new commercial processes, like acrylic painting and silkscreen printing
Imagery taken from high-profile and easily recognizable consumerist or media sources
People and objects presented in bright, highly contrasting colors
Compositions simple appealing to public
Idea is more important that then the work itself
Greatly influenced by the consumerism-driven economy of the 1950’s and 60’s
Tunes by Elvis Presley and the Beatles greatly impacted the artists of the era
Warhol and other artists wanted to break away from the structural norm of traditional paintings
Allowed for a larger audience and for that audience to better relate to the art pieces
Needed to make a visual impact on the general public
Focus was creating art which reflected the reality of contemporary America
intro to postmodernism
shattered established ideas about style and brought freedom to art and design
contradict some aspects of modernism
recycling of past styles and themes in modern-day context
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