Chronology MMoCA Collects


Abstract Expressionism (1950–1960)

Abstract Expressionism was the most important modern movement in American art following World War II. During the 1950s, artists associated with this new form of abstraction, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning, attained international acclaim. Active in New York, artists formed a first generation of the New York School.

Evolving out of earlier modern forms of abstraction and ideas surrounding Surrealism, Abstract Expressionist paintings were characterized by large-scale, spontaneous brushwork, and individualistic notions of the work of art as a record of the artist's subconscious creativity. Interpreted as intense forms of self-expression, Abstract Expressionist paintings were also understood by some art writers as epic metaphors for the underlying rhythms and forces of nature. By the late 1950s, Abstract Expressionism became less attractive to a younger generation of artists. In the 1960s, modern art in America became increasingly identified with formalist abstraction and Pop art.