The Most Influential Abstract Expressionists: An Overview of the Art Movement that Changed the World

Abstract Expressionism is a movement that is as vibrant today as it was a century ago when it first emerged in New York. This article explores abstract expressionism, covering the origins of the abstract expressionist art movement, famous Abstract Expressionist artists and their paintings, as well as some excellent examples of abstract expressionist artwork. Art is often a voice for underrepresented people in society, and during the 1930s to 1940s, many left-wing artists felt like they had something to say about the changes happening in America at the time. These artists weren’t so much interested in realism or objectivity; they wanted viewers to feel like they were looking directly into their souls. In short, they wanted to create something more abstract.

What is Abstract Expressionism?

Abstraction is the process of distilling something down to the core elements, so that you can focus on what’s essential. In the visual arts, this can refer to the practice of removing recognizable images from paintings or sculptures, so that what remains is a purely visual experience. Previously, artists had focused on reproducing the natural world as realistically as possible. With the advent of abstract expressionism, painters began to explore new ways to express themselves artistically. Abstract art is not meant to simply record what the artist sees in front of them, it is meant to be a personal vision that reflects the artist’s feelings and thoughts. This departure from representational painting can be seen everywhere in the visual arts, from sculpture to architecture to painting. In painting, abstraction is often achieved by removing recognizable imagery from the canvas entirely.

Origins of Abstract Expressionism

The origins of abstract expressionism can be traced back to the end of World War I and the social and economic upheaval that followed. At this time, a generation of artists and writers rebelled against the traditions of their elders and created a new, radical culture in New York City. The centre of this movement was a group of artists known as the New York School. Expelled from their teaching positions, the group found new ways to make art outside of the traditional art world. They organized their own exhibitions, published their own magazines and created a new kind of art that was more expressive and personal than anything seen before. The most famous members of this group were Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, and Mark Rothko.

Famous Abstract Expressionist Artists

Jackson Pollock – One of the most famous artists in the abstract expressionist movement, Pollock used paint splatters and drips to create chaotic images that he called “emotional expressions.” Today, these pieces are valued at millions of dollars. Mark Rothko – Rothko produced paintings that were characterized by a monochromatic palette and large, rectangular canvases. He said that his paintings were meant to exist “in the realm between silence and words.” These works have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York since the early 1930s, making him one of the most influential abstract expressionists. Rothko’s paintings can be found in a variety of museums around the world including the Tate Modern in London, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Willem de Kooning – This artist is known for his large-scale paintings that explore themes of femininity, sexuality, and the human condition. De Kooning’s work is characterized by his use of raw, heavy brushstrokes and abstracted forms. Like Rothko, de Kooning’s paintings can be found in museums across the world.


At first glance, abstract expressionism looks like a mess of paint, but a closer look reveals the movement’s focus on pure feeling. While many artists explore this idea, abstract expressionism has a distinct aesthetic that makes it easy to identify. If you love modern art and have enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our list of the best abstract expressionist art museums around the world. Art can be a difficult concept to understand, but with a bit of research, it can be very rewarding. Abstract expressionism is one of the most influential art movements of the last 100 years, and it has helped to shape the art world in countless ways.


More Posts