The Art of America Homeschool Unit Study: Art of the Mid-Twentieth Century – Abstract ExpressionismEva Varga
Abstract Expressionism (originating between 1940 – 1960)
Surrealism’s surprising imagery, deep symbolism, refined painting techniques, and disdain for convention influenced later generations of artists. Many artists’ work formed a continuum between Surrealism, Precisionism, and Abstract Expressionism.
There were several venues in New York for seeing avant-garde art from Europe including The Museum of Modern Art which opened in 1929. The forerunner of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, opened in 1939.
As a result, a small group of loosely affiliated artists based primarily in New York began to emerge in the early 1940s, creating a stylistically diverse body of work. As a result, they were sometimes referred to as “The New York School”.
Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) was well known for his unique style of drip painting. The catalog for his first exhibition described his talent as, “… volcanic. It has fire. It is unpredictable. It is undisciplined. It spills out of itself in a mineral prodigality, not yet crystallized.”
Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was an American sculptor known as the originator of the mobile. He also produced wire figures, which are like drawings made in space.
Research the works of Alexander Calder and plan your own wire sculpture with pieces of floral wire. Visit the Calder Foundation website to view many of his wire sculptures. Use the Styrofoam as a base in which to insert the wire.
Before starting to sculpt think about what you would like to sculpt with the wire. Consider the length and the number of pieces of wire you have. Calder considered his wire sculptures three-dimensional line drawings. Try drawing your sculpture on paper first before creating it with wire.
Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) was a Dutch-American artist who is most noted for his Woman series of paintings. He is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Influenced by Arshile Gorky and Pablo Picasso, de Kooning was often thought to have blended Cubism, Expressionism, and Surrealism in his signature style.
The Art of America Homeschool Unit Studies
This post is part of a 10-post series, providing an overview of the history of American art from Pre-Colonial times to today, including multiple art forms:
- wood carvings
- editorial cartoons
Moving chronologically through All American History curriculum, each post summarizes the art trends and movements popular during the period and features one or two artists from that time period. Plus I will provide a related art lesson or project that you can enjoy with your students.
- First Nations People
- Colonial Art
- The Hudson River School
- The Civil War & Reconstruction
- The Gilded Age & American Impressionism
- The Early Twentieth Century – Cubism
- The Early Twentieth Century – Precisionism
- The Art of the Great Depression
- Art of the Mid-Twentieth Century – Abstract Expressionism (this post)