Characteristics of Abstract Expressionism


Abstract Expressionism evolved through the work of each individual artist. Generally speaking, each artist arrived at this free-wheeling style by the end of the 1940s and continued in the same manner to the end of his or her life. The style has remained alive well into the current century through its youngest practitioners.

Abstract Expressionism, MoMA

Unnamed – Rothko

The general characteristics of Abstract Expressionism are the following:

  • Unconventional application of paint, usually without a recognizable subject that tends toward amorphous shapes in brilliant colours.
  • Dripping, smearing, slathering, and flinging lots of paint on to the canvas (often on an unprimed canvas).
  • Sometimes gestural writing in a loosely calligraphic manner.
  • Carefully filling the picture plane with zones of colour that create tension between the shapes and hues (especially in the case of Colour Field artists).

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.” – Pablo Picasso

1 thought on “Characteristics of Abstract Expressionism

  1. Pingback: Expressionate is NOT a word! | Melanie's Life Online

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