Art in America Abstract Expressionism Term Paper

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In essence, this painting "mixes a toothpaste smile with the grimace of a death's head" and symbolizes the true work of an American "action" painter (de la Croix & Tansey, 774).

Another great example of an American abstract expressionist master is Mark Rothko (1903 to 1973), who emigrated to the United States in 1914 from Latvia with his family to escape Czarist Russia and its strict policies towards Jews. Although Rothko was a friend and contemporary of Pollack, Kline and de Kooning, his paintings exhibit none of the aggressive attack or slashing brushwork one finds in the works of these artists. Rothko's Four Darks on Red does not exhibit the usual traits of "action" painting, for it shows a calm and contemplative mood with soft color variations, yet it also shows "a mysterious effect of forms and images occupying an ambiguously-defined space," much like Kline and Pollack (de la Croix & Tansey, 775).

Overall, Rothko's paintings are more concerned with the actual process of applying paint to a Another exceptional American abstract expressionist painter who was somewhat more formal with his paintings is Stuart Davis (1894 to 1964), the first American painter to incorporate cubism with abstract expressionism. His long and varied career began with some exhibits in New York City in 1913 which "introduced modern art to the general public in the United States." Although Davis
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at first focused on collages, he quickly moved to abstract expressionism by eliminating all recognizable forms and shapes from his paintings, much like Kline and Pollack. This process of elimination can be found in his so-called "egg beater" paintings which often began with the image of an ordinary kitchen utensil and slowly took on the shape which in no way represented the original object. Later in his life, Davis came to be seen by art critics in America as "the dean of American abstract painters, especially with his painting called Colonial Cubism, done in 1954 (de la Croix & Tansey, 776).

In conclusion, Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollack, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Stuart Davis all stand as American masters of abstract expressionism and are responsible for shifting "the art world's focus from Europe and Paris to New York in the post-war years." These artists are also responsible for creating a new and sometimes shocking artistic style which went completely against traditional forms of expression. Thus, following the lead of these and other American painters, an entirely new generation of American artists "were profoundly influenced by the breakthroughs" made by these masters and went on to "create their own important expressions based on...those who forged the way" (Paul, Internet).


Paul, Stella. "Abstract Expressionism." Metropolitan Museum of Art. Internet. Retrieved at


Sources Used in Documents:


Paul, Stella. "Abstract Expressionism." Metropolitan Museum of Art. Internet. Retrieved at

De la Croix, Horst and Richard G. Tansey, eds. Gardner's Art Through the Ages. 10th ed. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 2003.

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