JACKSON POLLOCK (1912-1956)
'Full Fathom Five', 1947
(oil with nails, coins, buttons, cigarette etc. on canvas)
Abstract Expressionism was the first American art style to exert an influence on a global scale. It drew upon the ‘spiritual’ approach of Kandinsky, the 'automatism' of the Surrealists, and a range of dramatic painting techniques.
Abstract Expressionism was also known as ‘Action Painting’, a title which implied that the physical act of painting was as important as the result itself.
The Abstract Expressionist movement embraced paintings from a wide range of artists whose work was not always purely abstract or truly expressionistic. The ‘all-over’ drip paintings of Jackson Pollock, which entangle the viewer in a skein of light, color and texture, were the biggest challenge to the interpretation of pictorial space since Cubism. The paintings of Mark Rothko bathe the spectator in a mystical world of diffuse color while the art of Robert Motherwell sets up an abstract dialogue between his 'automatic' calligraphy and the conscious control of shapes and colors. Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Barnet Newman and Clifford Still were other major figures associated with the movement.