Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art


Abstract Expressionism refers to a modern art movement that was formed in America after World War II. It was initially based in New York and intended to impact worldwide influence. The term ‘abstract expressionism’ was derived from a mixture of different aspects generated from emotions and self-denial.

Pop Art refers to a movement that was started in the early 1950s. Pop art derives its imagery, styles and themes from various sources which include media, advertisements and different popular cultures. It sometimes involves removal of material from its original context and placing it in another different material.

Characteristics and Developments

Abstract Expressionism

A few years after its development in New York, abstract expressionism emerged in Germany in the mid 1940s, the first versions being generated by the Der Sturm magazine. Between 1972 and 1977, the revisionist historians were greatly attracted to the style and themes of abstract expressionism. It later spread to other part of the world, for example, Germany. Some early painters associated with abstract expressionism are Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. In 2002, styles of painting of abstract expressionism were introduced in Paris by Jean-Paul Riopelle, though in a slightly different title known as abstract impressionism (Marter, 2007). This new style borrows its ideas mainly from artistry works in America and Germany. Its flourish in these two countries enables it to attract worldwide attention, therefore spreading massively to other parts of the globe. It was seen as a safer way of representing the American thoughts, culture, behavior and tradition. Abstract expressionism is characterized by automatic, unstructured and intuitive creations.

Great abstract expressionistic works of Jackson Pollock formed a firm ground, basis and laid a foundation for the future developments of abstract expressionism style that were witnessed in the early 1950s. According to Anfam, abstract expressionism works usually contained drip paintings (Anfam, 2010). These artistic works were meant to send messages relating to the social and political situations in America at that particular period of time and, hence, were considered tools and techniques for addressing social issues and matters related to humanity and its existence. Mater suggests that abstract expressionism works are characterizes by two main features, that is, action painting and color painting (Mater, 2007). It was mainly based on the artists’ perceptions and psychic views towards the real world. Abstract expressionism is majorly characterized by its ability to view and depict the realities through imagery. In addition, the paintings were often made of lines, different shapes and forms.

Pop Art

Pop Art started in America but soon spread to Britain. It developed its style by building on abstract art and commercial advertising styles, hence, simplifying reality and perspectives. In certain cases, artists would use commercial techniques to produce multiples of pop art. Pop art was symbolized by fascinations of cultures that reflected on the wealth and prosperity of the society after the world war. It was developed in America after the World War II and spread to Britain where it was catalyzed by the American culture. In America, the pop artists were influenced by previous experiences. Pop art is characterized by contrast and distinct ion. Most of its conceptual ideas are not easy to understand and comprehend (Osterwold, 2003). Pop art often borrows its imagery from media through advertisements. It often utilizes product labeling techniques and logos.

Andy Warhol is one the first artists to produce pop art. He designed the Campbell’s Soup Cans labels. Richard Hamilton, on the other hand, designed the collage Just Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing. According to Madoff, pop art is normally an extension of Dadaism. It, however, lacks the destructive, satirical and anarchic attributes of Dada movement (Madoff, 1997). The most famous painters of pop art are Johns Jasper and Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg was, however, concerned with social issues during his time.Hamilton also defined pop art as low-cost, mass produced glamorous business.

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