Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism is the post-World War II art movement related to new forms of American painting developed in New York in the 1940s. Some of the key figures in this new style of art were Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. Gestural brush-stokes and the impression of spontaneity characterize the artistic themes of Abstract Expressionism. Emotional in its effect, it was inspired by the surrealist idea that art should come from the unconscious mind. Abstract Expressionism was the first specifically American movement to achieve international influence and catapulted New York City to the center of the Western art world.

Within the movement were two broad groups: the action painters, who attacked their canvases with expressive brush-strokes: and the color field painters who filled their canvases with large areas of a single color. Led by Pollock and de Kooning, they worked in a spontaneous improvised technique, frequently using large brushes to make sweeping marks, placing their inner impulses onto the canvas. For example, Pollock famously danced around his grounded canvas, pouring paint from the can or trailing it from the brush or stick. The second group, which included Rothko, Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still, focused on religion and myth, crating simple compositions with large areas of color intended to produce a contemplative response in the viewer. This approach became known as color field painting, associated with artists using large areas of more or less a single flat color.

Several artists associated with the Abstract Expressionism movement experienced early Surrealist phases. For example, Rothko, de Kooning and Roy Lichtenstein demonstrated tendencies in their works to explore the so-called biomorphic version of Surrealism. Dali’s presence in New York City afforded those artists, as well as James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol, either direct contact with him or exposure to some of his finest canvases at his 1941 retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Dali’s own transformation arrived with his shift towards much larger-format paintings, larger in scale, between the period of 1958-1977. He may very well have changed scale in his larger works as a result of observing artists like Pollock, Rosenquist and Chuck Close.

Sources about Abstract Expressionism in The Dalí Museum Library:

Hess, Barbara. Abstract Expressionism. Taschen, 2005.

This book is a compilation of commentaries on key works from various artists of Abstract Expressionism. Many of the artists represented are the primary players of the movement, including Jackson Pollack, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, and Willem De Kooning. The volume is separated into the time periods of the 1940s, the 1950s, and the 1960s.

  • Call Number: ND 212.5 .A25 A215 2005

Guilbaut, Serge. How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art – Abstract Expressionism, Freedom, and the Cold War. University of Chicago Press, 1983.

The success of New York abstract expressionism after World War II is reviewed in this book. The author takes a controversial examination at the complex, intertwining relationships among art, politics, and ideology. Guilbaut explores the shifting New York and paris art scenes of the Cold War period, the rejection by artists of political ideology, and the coopting by left-wing writers and politicians of the artistic revolt.

  • Call Number: N 6512.5 .N4 G84 1983

Lucie-Smith, Edward. Late Modern: The Visual Arts Since 1945. Frederick A. Praeger, 1969.

This concise account of the visual arts since World War II presents a clear, compelling narrative of all the principasl art movements of the past twenty-five years in the United States, England, France, and other countries. The achievements of the leading artists are analyzed as well their roots and ideas that triggered each successive change in style. With a keen sense of historical perspective, the author delineates how each movement is related to its predecessors, rival, and successors.

  • Call Number: N 6490 .L78 1969

Spring, Justin. The Essential Jackson Pollock. Harry N. Abrams, 1989.

In a compact and tiny book, Jackson Pollock’s personal and professional lives are examined in a tidy, detailed presentation. Several aspects of his career are addressed, ranging from his “Drip” paintings to his drunken episodes, womanizing, and mental breakdowns. The volume  contains a total of 51 illustrations, including 39 plates in full color.

  • Call Number: ND 237 .P73 S68 1998

Lynton, Norbert. The Story of Modern Art. Cornell University Press, 1980.

This volume surveys in detail the art of the twentieth century by focusing on 250 essential works, thereby enabling the reader to feel comfortable with modern art by focusing on the motives behind movements and trends. The book balances text and pictures as the 302 reproductions (85 in color) are fully integrated into the text, making for a smooth collaboration. Brief biographies of the artists and a bibliography provide useful reference material.

  • Call Number: N 64909 .L93 1980

Sawin, Martica. Surrealism in Exile and the  Beginning of the New York School. MIT Press, 1995.

This book bridges the connection between the French/European story of Surrealism and the story of Abstract Expressionism. A year-by-year account of the Surrealist movement from 1938-1947 is provided of the artists as they are transplanted to the Western Hemisphere and their contact with the future abstract expressionists. The roots of the New York School are documented and interwoven with the text are 250 photographs of people, place, and artworks.

  • Call Number: N 6848.5 .S96 S28 1995

Gabriel, Mary. Ninth Street Women. Little, Brown and Company, 2018.

Here is the passionate, wild, and exhilarating chronicle of five women artists who became an integral part of the male-dominated world of twentieth century abstract painting. Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler were pioneers to the art world for themselves and those who followed them. Their story is remarkable and inspiring as they shaped the platform of art for women in postwar America.

  • Call Number: N 6495 .A25 G33 2018

Atkins, Robert. ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements and Buzzwords. Abbeville Press, 1990.

This book is organized in a very precise format, including an Art Chart,Timeline, and a User’s Manual. The Timeline offers a compilation of both world-wide events and historical developments in the art world from 1945 to 1989. The User’s Manual, which is the main section, utilizes the journalistic technique of “Who, When, Where, and What” to define the terminology for understanding art and its movements in short, alphabetically arranged essays.

  • Call Number: N 6490 .A87 1990

Gaugh, Harry F. Willem de Kooning. Abbeville Press, 1983.

This volume is part of the Abbeville Modern Masters series of books on many of the most creative and influential artists of the post-World War II era. This title offers a perceptive and sympathetic view of an artist who made some of the greatest art of the twentieth century. The full range of his work is illustrated here, including several paintings never before reproduced, and also featured is a section on technique that corrects previous misconceptions about de Kooning’s method of painting.

  • Call Number: N 6537 .D43 G38 1983

Ratclilff, Carter. The Fate of a Gesture: Jackson Pollock and Postwar American Art.             Farrar Strauss Giroux, 1996.

The Manhattan art world from Fifty-seventh Street to SoHo is mapped out here by revisiting the community of studios, galleries, and bars where the personalities of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol congregated and clashed. The story of postwar American art is traced from the late 1940s through the phenomenon of Abstract Expressionism and the explosion of Pop Art, all the way to the boom of the 1980s. The monumental impact of Pollock’s contribution to the art world is the thread throughout this exploration.

  • Call Number: ND 212 .R38 1996

Jackson Pollock in Venice/The “Irascibles” and the New York School. Skira, 2002.

This handsome volume offers a selection of masterpieces, affording the opportunity to reflect on American painting of the second half of the 20th century and its importance in the cultural development of generations of artists. The central focus is Jackson Pollock and his role in the foundation of a new language of American culture. A selection of extraordinary works retrace the artistic arc of this icon, from his figurative beginnings to the Action Painting Period, and flanking them are works by artists who worked with Pollock known as the “Irascibles” of the so-called New York School: Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, among others.

  • Call Number: ND 237 .P73 A4 2002

O’Connor, Francis V. Jackson Pollock. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1967.

This book was published in connection with the Jackson Pollock major exhibition of 1967 at            The Museum of Modern Art – the largest retrospective the museum had ever devoted to an American artist. A brief, but detailed, narrative of the events of Pollock’s life are presented and accompanied by a summary of the exhibitions of his work and a selection of contemporary criticism. Included in the chronology are 22 documentary photographs and    88 reproductions of Pollock’s paintings and drawings, providing a valuable survey of his work.

  • Call Number: ND 237 .P73 O2 1967

Pollock to Pop: America’s Brush with Dali. Salvador Dali Museum, 2005.

This catalog was published for the exhibition, Pollock to Pop: America’s Brush with Dali, that was held at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, December 9, 2005 through April 23, 2006. The exhibition focuses on Dali’s relation to the art and artists in America following World War II. Reproductions of classic Dali Works are juxtaposed with those of the Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art movements, resulting in a contrast of styles and themes.

  • Call Number: N 7113 .D3 A4 S36 2005

Jeffett, William. JAMES ROSENQUIST: Paintings/James Rosenquist: Selects DALI.     Salvador Dali Museum, 2000.

This catalog was published for the exhibitions James Rosenquist: Paintings/James Rosenquist: Selects Dali Museum  hosted by the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 29 through September 10, 2000. In addition to a retrospective of Rosenquist’s works and a detailed reflection on the highlights and influences of his art, the artist selected a dozen of Dali’s most significant paintings from the collection of the Salvador Dali Museum. A unique feature of the catalog is a conversation between the author and Rosenquist covering a range of topics, including his interaction with Dali.

  • Call Number: N .7113 .D3 A4 2000

Adcock, Craig. James Rosenquist: Monochromes. Acquavella Contemporary Art, 2005.

This complimentary volume was associated with an exhibition of Rosenquist’s grisaille and monochrome paintings at Acquavella Contemporary Art in New York City, October 4 through November 1, 2005. Adcock’s essay provides a detailed commentary on the various works in the exhibition. In all, 24 paintings are included in the exhibition.

  • Call Number: ND 237 .R723 A4 2000

Diederich, Stefan and Dziewior, Yilmaz. James Rosenquist: Painting As Immersion.        Prestel Publishing, 2017.

This catalog was published in conjunction with the exhibition James Rosenquist: Painting As Immersion at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, November 18, 2017 through March 3, 2018. The exhibition is the first show to present the works of the American Pop Art icon in a comprehensive context, displaying them with source materials. Further, the exhibition revolves around the central aspect of “painting as immersion,” as the artist himself calls it, and at the same time, it offers a broad overview of Rosenquist’s body of work.

  • Call Number: N 6537 .R58 A4 2017

Baxter, Charles; Findlay, Michael: Goldman, Judith. James Rosenquist: His American Life. Rizzoli, 2018.

This handsome publication accompanies the exhibition, James Rosenquist: His American Life, which was on view at the Acquavella Galleries in New York City, October 25th through December 7, 2018. The show focused on Rosenquist’s compelling and poetic vision of postwar America. The volume provides a vision of presenting Rosenquist in a new light, as a lyrical chronicler of American life, rather than solely through the platform of Pop art.

  • Call Number: ND 237 .R723 A4 2018

Greene, Alison de Lima. Mark Rothko: An Essential Reader. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2015.

This catalogue volume accompanies the exhibition, Mark Rothko: A Retrospective, organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The book is comprised of an anthology of writings by Harry Cooper, Douglas MadAgy, Hubert Crehan, Clement Greenberg, Dore Ashton, Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rosenblum, Robert Goldwater, David Sylvester, Harold Rosenberg, Brian O’Doherty, Dominique de Menil, and Christopher Rothko. An extensive chronology provides context to Rothko’s life and career.

  • Call Number: N 6537 .R63 M37 2015

Written by Ira Piller

About The Dalí Museum
The Dalí Museum, located in the heart of picturesque downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, is home to an unparalleled collection of over 2,400 Salvador Dalí works, including nearly 300 oil paintings, watercolors and drawings, as well as more than 2,100 prints, photographs, posters, textiles, sculptures and objets d’art. The Museum’s nonprofit mission, to care for and share its collection locally and internationally, is grounded by a commitment to education and sustained by a culture of philanthropy.

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