Following up from Part One of this article, we’ll be continuing to look at other modern art movements, the artists that sparked them, and the conceptual basis that you'll need to better understand the choices made by these artists and their process. This will aid in your appreciation and awareness of how more contemporary pieces fit within that art genre.
In Part Two, we’ll be looking at three movements:
· Abstract Expressionism
· Pop Art
· Art of Minimalism
These more be more familiar to you than those in the previous article. This is because these art movements have influenced the literature and films we've grown up to love and even ideologies that many people live by.
Pollock, The Father of the Abstract Action
Unlike Duchamp in the previous article, who utilized theoretical concepts and everyday objects to elevate them to the status of art, Jackson Pollock (1912 – 1956) strived to paint actions.
For Pollock and other “Abstract Expressionists”, the canvas was the surface that documented the interaction between the painter and the chosen medium. By rejecting the traditional concepts of space, composition, and shape, he chose to focus on the emotion – the personal expression of the piece.
It was raw and unfiltered. The primary goal of abstract expressionistic painting was to discover what the painting had to offer, rather than to force a subject matter, specific mood, or theme to light. Abstract expressionism instead elevates the role of the viewer, as it is their interpretation that is the core aspect.
By the beginning of the 60s, Abstract Expressionism had almost become a cliché in modern art circles. This is when Andy Warhol (1928 -1987) took the opportunity to spark his movement in the form of Pop Art.
Warhol took inspiration from the visual languages and design used in product packaging and even utilized production techniques used in commercial industries – one of his most famous work being that of the “Campbell’s” cans of soup.
One of the most striking parts of his process was Warhol's "factory" of assistants which aided in the mass production of his artworks, mockingly embracing the notion that art production is a business at its core. Pop Art is often regarded as the reproduction of mass consumer culture – both criticizing and celebrating it.
[image – Minimalistic art piece]
The Art of Minimalism
A movement stemming from Cubism and sparked by artists such as Donald Judd (1928 – 1994), Agnes Martin (1912 – 2004), and Tony Smith (1912 – 1980), the art of minimalism is where the artist sets out to expose the essential essence of the subject, getting rid of non-essential shapes, colors or ideas – to lay the art bare to the viewer.
These ideals for the movement came from Donald Judd, who was critical of Abstract Expressionism's reliance on the mark of the artist on the canvas. Judd wanted to create artworks that were independent of the artist’s hand and went as far as to use a similar process to Warhol, having assistants and machines creating the artworks that he designed, removing himself from the art.
Minimalistic artworks are usually referred to as “specific objects” – a counter work to the “found objects” of Readymade Art. This is because they have been specifically designed by the artist and are objects in the sense that they have been fabricated rather than sculpted. Minimalism seeks to provoke the viewer's response without the use of the extraneous use of anything – everything is chosen for a specific purpose to invoke a specific feeling or thought.
The Art Evolution Continues
Art never truly stops evolving. It is always reshaping and changing in style, in the process and intention. Understanding your art history will enable you to better understand modern art movements and the process that went into their creation. It may even trigger the next art evolution by inspiring you or a friend to create a work of art that has never been done before.
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