Thursday, December 5, 2019
Abstract Expressionism Essay Example For Students
Abstract Expressionism Essay What about the reality of the everyday world and the reality of painting? They are not the same realities. What is this creative thing that you have struggled to get and where did it come from? What reference or value does it have, outside of the painting itself? Ad Reinhardt, in a group discussion at Studio 35, in 1950. My essay starts with the origin and the birth of this great expression in the twentieth century. This movement not only touched painting, it had an affect on various aspects of art- poetry, architecture, theater, film, photography. Vasily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian are considered to be the pioneer artists to have achieved a truly abstract visual language in painting. Although they worked independently, these artists were united by a belief that abstract painting was capable of evoking a spiritual experience. A central figure of German Expressionism, Kandinsky, in 1911, began to paint densely layered composition of free-floating lines and areas of color, with the intention to reveal his desire to instill visual form with the properties of music. To examine the transitional phase bridging these two movements, we must first define what cultural and artistic shifts are. According to T.S Eliot, culture includes all the characteristic activities of a people: Derby Daythe pin tablenineteenth-century Gothic churches and the music of Elgarwhat is part of our culture is also a part of our lived religion. 1 Therefore, a shift in culture would denote a change in the qualities of a person or society arising from a concern for what is reckoned as excellent in arts, manners and scholarly pursuits.2 On the other hand, art defined on its own represents the satisfaction of aesthetic standards and sensibilities through an appreciation of beauty or good taste; at the same time, it is the demonstration of the ability to create with excellence. 3 Thence, an artistic shift would mean a transition in both aesthetic values and styles, as well as creative techniques. Let us consider the causes of these changes. Art is most often affected by the culture of the society that creates it. It is intertwined with politics, and sometimes functions as a political commentary or critique. Art aims to be an expression of political discourse as the ultimate means of emancipation-absolute freedom from commodification, if such is still possible. Art is a critical necessity as long as it fights being a part of the spectacle, as it aims to turn the spectacle upside down, in order to expose the culture industry. Politics, in many ways, acts as a catalyst to cultural and artistic developments. A cultural shift is often induced by a change in sociopolitical atmosphere. This was evident in the cultural shift between the period of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. During the period immediately after World War Two, disgust at war, and the emerging Cold War prompted society to turn to an anti-materialistic, apolitical lifestyle. They became more concerned with what lays within, exploring the idea of purity, hence their interest for the so-called High Art represented by Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning and Hans Hofmann. The regard for purity in the soul was expressed by non-figurative, expressive action paintings often associated and concerned with colours, lines and shapes. Unlike Abstract Expressionism, when the heyday of Pop Art arrived, spearheaded by such champions as Warhol, (with America enjoying great success in its post-war boom and Cold War strategies against USSR), the whole of the United States was engrossed in its flourishing economy and mass culture. It was a time during which popular prints were instrumental in helping to shape the perceptions of the vast majority.4 Ever since the end of World War Two, periodic political and economical upheavals have marked the emergence of the American art. The previously dominant European art world began to evolve around American art since the late 1940s, creating a brand new artistic and cultural atmosphere for the American artists. Though American artists shared a similar global reality with the Europeans, their socio-political circumstances differed.5 Unlike the European states, the United States of America had sustained minimal moral and physical damage during the war. This however, nurtured a culture of apolitical apathy among the ordinary Americans who became much concerned with the search for self-enrichment. Impression, Sunrise EssayHaving understood the pre Cold War atmosphere in America, it may be seen that the artists profession was, in itself, a magnet for suspicion. If you were a modernist, then according to Michigan Congressman George E. Dondero, you were an international art thug working in un-American Communistic styles.6 Therefore, any suggestion of being associated with liberal causes could result in accusations of disloyalty to the American way. Thus it was prudent to avoid political controversy in ones art. The resultant artistic focus on purely personal truths was expressed in the essence of the later Abstract Expressionist works. Contrast this with Pop Art, which celebrated post-war consumerism, as the post-war economic boom resulted in an era of glitz and consumerism. It created a generation in which anything and everything was available on the open market. In the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War politics, many were concerned with popular cultures political as opposed to aesthetic impact.7 The age of Pop Art on the other hand, turned this idea around. As Sontags stated in the essay One Culture and the New Sensibility8, the dizzying rate of cultural and technological change had produced a new (potentially unitary) sensibility, one that emerged from the breakdown of old cultural boundaries-between science and art, high culture and low. There arenew standards of beauty and style and tasteFrom the vantage point of this new sensibility, the beauty of a machine or of the solution to a mathematical problem, of a painting by Jasper Johns, of a file by Jean-Luc Godard, and of the personalities and music of the Beatles is equally accessible.Thus far, we have discussed the nature of the cultural shift between the two movements. We must now turn our study to the artistic shift, the product of the intangible change in social culture through the decades.