Tragedy, doom, suffering and self-inflicted harm are a common tone set between the 7 featured artists of the Abstract Expressionism exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts I visited for my Art History course in London. These artists lived and worked in the United States in the years following the Second World War which ended in 1945 and the pieces range up to the 1970s. Abstract Expressionism is defined by a broad range of artists who use this form of free expression of individual experiences to express their own personal and subjective responses to the world. Their art is a direct reflection and reaction to the world and time they lived through. In constant competition amongst one another, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Willem de Kooning and Barnett Newman’s work bares striking resemblance. The paintings by Arshile Gorky, Helen Frankenthaler and Ad Reinhardt are also featured in the exhibit, as well as the three-dimension sculptural work of David Smith and photography of Barbara Morgan. Similarities of Art Expressionism lie in the ideas, approaches and influences, as well as the scale of their work. These artists worked in the medium of oil on canvas, and would portray meaning behind their work using control and purpose, often using the time era or their immigrant influence to depict a new form of artistic language.
Rumored to be the most expensive gallery ever created and worth an excess of a billion pounds, as I walked through the exhibit, I was completely overcome by the Abstract Expressionism art. I could immediately see impressive, large scale work that was utterly beautiful, but completely incomprehensible. Yet, as I looked closer into the pieces and examined the attention to detail and careful planning and purpose, the form of self-expressionism of the artists became quite apparent to me.
Arshile Gorky, “Water on the Flowery Mill”
Jackson Pollock, “Night Mist”
Jackson Pollock, “Mural”
Willem de Kooning
Mark Rothko, “No. 15”
I loved this exhibit, and I felt our guide did a remarkable job of explaining the backstory behind each of the artists to our class as they lived terrible lives and suffered a great deal due to personal tragedy, health conditions, accidents, deaths and even suicides. This opportunity to visit this exhibition of Abstract Expressionism art is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as this collection is considered to be truly priceless.