Style & Definition
Abstract Expressionism emphasized the portrayal of emotions rather than objects. Most painters of the movement preferred large works on canvas, vivid colors, and loose brushwork. It is seen as combining the emotional earnestness and self-expression of the German Expressionists with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European abstract schools such as the Bauhaus and Futurism. Cubism, specifically Pablo Picasso, was also a major influence with the idea of breaking representational objects down to basic geometrical forms. Abstract Expressionists emphasized the accidents and spontaneity in their work, but usually highly planned their implementation. Mistakes that did happen during the painting process were used to the artist’s advantage. Hans Hoffman and Arshile Gorky were essential in calling attention to the potential for expression in abstraction and the basic physicality of paint. Abstract Expressionism can be broadly divided into two groups: Action Painting and Color Field.