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muse | ART & Performance

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bstract Expressionism is one of the most misunderstood art movements in history. The term coined by critic Robert Coaters from German expressionism and European abstraction covers a vast variety of artwork that bloomed just after the Second World War in Germany, but Abstract Expressionism then claimed New York City as its centre. Frustration with society and the ominous presence of the Cold War lead to the exploration of new techniques. The pioneering artists of this time were looking for a new way to express themselves through their art. Upon visiting the Royal Academy of Arts’ Abstract Expressionism exhibition, I discovered how misunderstood the artists of this era were, and how, even today, understanding their true intentions is hard. The exhibition is massive in size and rich in collection. All the greatest pioneers of the movement are represented: Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning etc. With 12 rooms in total, each one is dedicated to a different artist or movement. I was especially impressed with the Pollock collection, which gather together some of his greatest and pioneering works including “Male and Female”, “Blue Poles”, and “Mural”. I had the privilege of joining a group of schoolchildren standing in front of “Mural”. Their teacher was telling them the legend of Pollock painting the vast canvas of colours and shapes for Peggy Guggenheim overnight. The teacher went on to explain how the unlikely figures are supposedly showing farm animals. And just like that, all of the eight year-old children pointed out the cows and dogs they saw in the mixture of brushstrokes. I began to wonder, was this not exactly what Pollock had in mind? To create art worthy of exploring and to challenge the admirers of his work to think beyond the image. “Mural” is a masterpiece without a doubt. Interestingly, there is more difference between the layers of colours than the contrast itself. The lighter, whiter background is cheap wall paint, while the others are expensive aquarelle. The painting certainly has similarities to Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, both in size and in mood. They were also made at almost the same time. However, these two artists belonged to completely different movements, and their works received fascinatingly different receptions. Picasso is one of, if not the biggest, names of modernism and his work was never as harshly critiqued as Pollock’s. Abstract expressionists explored the art of creating. They often paid more attention to the materials and the techniques than the actual painting. Such is the story of Pollock’s “Blue Poles”. The artist laid the canvas on the floor of a farmhouse in the suburbs of New York, and let gravity do the art. This technique raised an interesting question in presentation: if the

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The misunderstood geniuses of ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM Bori Bernát reads the layers of Abstract Expressionism

Profile for Pi Media, UCLU

Pi Magazine, Issue 716 - The Mind  

Our Second Issue of the 2016/17 academic year is focused on 'The Mind'. We delve into topics such as mental health, neurological disease, an...

Pi Magazine, Issue 716 - The Mind  

Our Second Issue of the 2016/17 academic year is focused on 'The Mind'. We delve into topics such as mental health, neurological disease, an...