The two genres of art that emerged and became popular in the post WWII era were Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, while New York became the art capital of the world, allowing development and comparison of different art forms…
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Kandinsky was an artist whose concepts played a crucial role in developing Abstract Expressionism. The Surrealist idea of the unconscious and Freudian imagery gained popularity among the artists simultaneously, and Abstract Expressionists, especially Jackson Pollock developed the desire to express the unconscious. He was brought up in Arizona and then in Chico, California. During the 1950s, Abstract Expressionism reached its peak. Employing the Automatism technique (from Surrealism, where the artist was to paint without fully controlling his body, thus unlocking the unconscious) which led to his “drip paintings” later known as “action painting”, Using household paints instead of artist’s paints, and sticks and other tools as paint applicators, with his canvases laid on the floor, Pollock brought a revolution to this art form. He allowed people to come and watch him while he created masterpieces: moving around the canvas, dripping paint at different angles; he seemed engaged in a dance. In 1938, he underwent a psychiatric treatment for his alcoholism and worked with two Jungian analysts. After this extremely influential experience, he began exploring his own unconscious symbolism, the result of which is visible in his work Male and Female which shows freely poured pigment for the first time. The brilliance in the poured paintings that he began from 1947 was that he chose numbers for their titles, widening the viewers’ scope by giving them freedom of interpretation, which he thought was limited otherwise. At the age of 44, Pollock passed away in a car accident; he was driving under the influence of alcohol. Pollock’s One (Number 31) is one of his abstract works that he painted using the ‘drip technique’. The canvas is covered with long patchy, free flowing irregular lines; the color scheme is very subtle, consisting of only black, blue, grey, brown and white on an off white background; the beauty of Abstract Expressionism is that it does not make a statement of it own, rather it invokes the observer’s subconscious, allowing them to interpret it the way they see it and how it makes them feel (Lanchner & Pollock, 32). However, keeping in mind the post world war era it was created in, one can imagine the chaos and pandemonium of that time and relate to it; it makes one wonder what it must have been like to live amidst all the destruction and bloodshed. On a closer look, one might feel like the black strokes represent moving, perhaps dancing or falling(after being shot, maybe?) stick men like figures; or figures who are trying to run away from the brown, blue, white and grey(the war, maybe, trying to save themselves?). Also, each color might have a meaning of its own: for instance, the brown(earth or ground), the white(people’s tears), the black(arms and ammunition). It is a good thing it does not have a decipherable image(s) with definite meaning. It is a thought provocative piece of art, and it leaves one with no doubt as to why the art critic, Clement Greenberg wrote, “and I knew Jackson was the greatest painter this country had produced“ about Pollock,who played a great role in expressing the then deplorable social and political conditions of America, and diverting people’s attention from them, hence providing an escape from reality. Abstract Expressionism had become so influential by the second world war that the amateur artists imitated the style as it was, thus lacking originality and innovation, deterring the general public from connecting with it. In the 1950s, a bunch of approaching artists, began defying the norm, using imagery relatable by the general public. That is when advertising started making consumer items like Coca-Cola into household names in America. the American culture was heavily
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