Studio Art Abstract Unit

Abstract Expressionism

“What the heck is that supposed to be?”

“That’s Art?”

“I don’t get it.”

Abstract Art is a form of art which does not seek to represent the world around us. The term is applicable to any art that does not represent recognizable objects. Art that does not mirror real things, but is an arrangement of shapes and colors.

Abstract Expressionism:

  • Developed in New York during the decades immediately following World War II.
  • Abstract Expressionism is an attempt to depict universal emotions and feelings.
  • Abstract Expressionism is an artist defined movement.

Key Words linked to Abstract Expressionism: universal order; physical gesture; dance; psychic energy; unconscious symbols; contemplation; iconic; stillness.

The down and dirty of Abstract Expressionism: Abstract expressionists concentrated on the physical process of painting, from which the narrower term ‘Action Painting’ was derived, often throwing paint at their canvases in an expressive and highly physical subversion of traditional methods of painting. The Abstract Expressionists turned the unconscious for symbols of universal meaning which could restore both art and society after WW2.

Colour Field Painting looks exactly opposite of Action Painting, but it is simply another variant within Abstract Expressionism. Colour Field Painting evokes the physic energy of contemplation.

Artists that are associated with this art movement: Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Ellsworth Kelly, William De Kooning, Lee Krasner, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, Clyfford Still.

Related Art Movements: Fauvism, Primitivism, Expressionism, Neo-Expressionism.

*Studio Art students have been practicing and learning about Abstract Art and Abstract Expressionism. Students have created Abstract Art by listening to music and contemplating their own feelings, mood, and working on visual communication. Students were required to complete a presentation project and a ‘halves’ project where students researched an Abstract artist of their choice and compared it to Realism (the unit we just finished). The Halves Project will be comprised of the students creating one side of their composition in a Realism style and the other in an Abstract style, focusing on how to visually communicate the feelings or mood associated with their subject matter. The unit will be complete with an Abstract Expression Project using acrylic paints.


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