Drip Paintings, Prosperous Americans and Propaganda
Abstract Expressionism was never intended to be a movement, by a twist of fate New York artist in the 1940 and the 1950s were unified under this movement. It unified not only the painters that covered canvases with color and abstract forms and fields of colors, but who also attacked the canvas with aggressive expressionism. Jackson Pollack was one of the commanding figures for the movement and blazed the trail for other artist, he showed the world what art could become. Ashley Remer of The Art Story Foundation states "The famous 'drip paintings' that Pollack began to produce in the late 1940s represent one of the most original bodies of work of the century. At times they could suggest the life-force in nature itself, at others they could evoke man's entrapment - in the body, in the anxious mind, and in the newly frightening modern world." The abstract movement became propaganda for this modern world, the movement embraced the American spirit. Having matured as artist in a time when America suffered economically and felt culturally isolated these were the subconscious of Americans in the 1940s-1950s. Art became more self aware, art was made for an artist sake not for profit only, this coincided with the dramatic social changes acquiring within society. The public were the children that lived during the Great Depression, now with the booming economy the public had time to enjoy their income and take pride in themselves again. Before this movement Impressionism in the 19th century had similar ideals, creating art on what they felt. This paved the way for the Abstract Expressionism and what this movement transcended into effected how and why art was created from here on out.
The 1940s were a time when people who had lived through the Great Depression were now learning to take pleasure in their free time again. People began to become prosperous and more interested in the arts again, they finally had the free time and did not have to work 24/7. People were starting to also focus inward on themselves, Psychiatry became more popular during this time as well. All of the artist had known poverty and hardship, Jackson Pollack himself had a rough upbringing. Pollack and large family constantly had to move so his father who was a surveyor could find work.Gale Cengage explains in his book American Decades that the labor force expanded from fifty-six million one hundred eighty thousand in 1940 to sixty-five million two hundred ninety thousand in 1945. While more than half of all Americans lived in poverty during the Depression, by the end of the war just over one-third were poor. Another third earned wages that gave them significant disposable income for the first time. With this disposable income the public bought TVs and the first regularly operating television station, debuted in New York with an estimated 10,000 viewers . The country learned to enjoy it's self again and knew how to spend it money and be selfish.
Abstract Expressionism became propaganda for the new american way of life, people were looking inward and so were the artist. They were producing art for their own sake not what the critics wanted. America was buying again everything was mass produced even art. The art signified freedom of expression, In Art and Propaganda in the 20th Century Toby Clark states "Abstract Expressionism Illustrates how non-figurative art came to signify freedom of expression (only possible in a democracy) in contrast of the socialist realism of Stalin's regime in the USSR. While socialist realism came to be considered tacky (populist, sentimental, and figurative), Abstract Expressionism was elevated to become an art style more sophisticated, refined, and objective."(13). In the 1950s and 60s the Congress for Cultural Freedom or the CCF worked as a front for the CIA by funding exhibitions that were displayed in the The Museum Modern of Art. The...
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Clark, Toby. Art and Propaganda in the Twentieth Century: The Political Image in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997. Print.
Dijkstra, Bram. American Expressionism: Art and Social Change, 1920-1950. New York: H.N. Abrams, in Association with the Columbus Museum of Art, 2003. Print.
Wolf, Justin. "The Art Story.org - Your Guide to Modern Art." Abstract Expressionism Movement, Artists and Major Works. The Art Story, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.
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