President s ForewordSponsor s StatementAcknowledgements An Unending Equation, David Anfam A New Spirit of Freedom Abstract Expressionism in Europe in the Aftermath of War, Jeremy Lewison An Improvised Community, Carter Ratcliff Feminism for the Most Masculine How Two Women Launched an Art Market, Susan Davidson Chronology, Edith Devaney with Christian WurstCatalogue Plates Painting and Sculpture Works on Paper and Photography Lenders to the ExhibitionEndnotesSelect BibliographyPhotogra President s ForewordSponsor s StatementAcknowledgements An Unending Equation, David Anfam A New Spirit of Freedom Abstract Expressionism in Europe in the Aftermath of War, Jeremy Lewison An Improvised Community, Carter Ratcliff Feminism for the Most Masculine How Two Women Launched an Art Market, Susan Davidson Chronology, Edith Devaney with Christian WurstCatalogue Plates Painting and Sculpture Works on Paper and Photography Lenders to the ExhibitionEndnotesSelect BibliographyPhotographic AcknowledgementsIndex The most important art movement since the Second World War, Abstract Expressionism revolutionized the way Americans viewed art and culture alike Drawing on a vast array of scholarly research, David Anfam examines the politically radical spirit of a nucleus of artists who transgressed the traditional forms of American art and faced the tensions of a modernizing society The author places the movement within a broad cultural background, while at the same time giving a close account of the visual art of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, as well as the photography of Aaron Siskind and the sculpture of David Smithillusin color The human mind always develops a serious passion for two things things that it couldn t understand and things it couldn t attain Abstract art has been one such a passion of mine, one of those many things that I never understood, no matter how much I tried Picking this book was one attempt of mine to grasp that art form called Abstract Expressionism But little did I glean after having gone through this book.Abstract Expressionism, or Gestural Abstraction, as it is called in another of man The human mind always develops a serious passion for two things things that it couldn t understand and things it couldn t attain Abstract art has been one such a passion of mine, one of those many things that I never understood, no matter how much I tried Picking this book was one attempt of mine to grasp that art form called Abstract Expressionism But little did I glean after having gone through this book.Abstract Expressionism, or Gestural Abstraction, as it is called in another of many ways, is a form of art that isvisceral and volatile than any bit formal or constructed Of course, even such a visceral art gets constructed by the artist through serious and sincere focus And, all that I wanted to learn was about the stimuli and milieu that led to the genesis of this art form I also wanted to learn as to what constitutes abstract expressionism and other such qualifiers David Anfam has done a good job with all that introduction, but the trouble begins with his delving deep in abstract terms to tackle his task of defining the history of Abstract Art forms.I always love artworks that don t reveal everything in mere lines, forms and colors, instead carrying a mysterious aura around them, taunting the viewer to look deeper to discern the same Such works are what art is all about an expression of the soul, catharsis for the pent up emotions and passions While Abstract Art easily wins this award hands down, I don t believe in artists merely splashing paint on a canvas and calling it abstract painting, letting the wannabe intellectuals offer any and every meaning that they can dig out of it, thus heaping undeserving glory on the artist An artist expressing something of real sense through his work and allowing the viewer to discern the meaning out of it is one thing, while the artist doing the splashing and letting the viewer s perceptions allot a lofty sense and purpose to an otherwise accidental art is something altogether different The first part is what Abstract Expressionism is all about, whereas the second one is merely a sophisticated sham Coming back to this book, many of the artworks appearlike what you or I can do in a simple notebook, but David helps us delve deeper into their meanings and see beyond their seemingly simple exteriors something that I always dread If an art aficionado findsmeaning in a work of artthan even what the artist had really intended to convey what do you make of such a work Is the artist to be glorified for encouraging such a thought process or is the viewer to be praised for assigning a meaning when there were none or not as much as was made out to be This and manysuch questions of mine about Abstract Art were left unanswered as I closed the book Little did I learn from this book and I feel that only I am to be blamed Being a budding artist of course, I can call myself so and still remain a humble being I couldn t understand all that greatness of the works of masters like Jackson Pollock and de Kooning I can pin the blame on none other than Anfam for making the book a tad difficult for beginners like myself May be I will revisit the book once I grow wise in life and art May be then I will be able to understand this book better and revise my rating, but for the time being I can offer it nothingthan two stars A nice medium weight treatment Suffers the typical elision of an author overly familiar with a subject and thereby forgetting what he once didn t know Art books can be frustratingly insular in that way, and this one is no exception But filled with lots of gold nuggets And some truly wonderful color reproductions Though I echo others complaints about the scattered black and white plates WTHF The Pond by Baziotes was rendered all but useless by this gross negligence absolutely lovely in A nice medium weight treatment Suffers the typical elision of an author overly familiar with a subject and thereby forgetting what he once didn t know Art books can be frustratingly insular in that way, and this one is no exception But filled with lots of gold nuggets And some truly wonderful color reproductions Though I echo others complaints about the scattered black and white plates WTHF The Pond by Baziotes was rendered all but useless by this gross negligence absolutely lovely in chromatic Thank god for Google it should be your constant companion through this worthy campaign Abstract expressionist painting has had a profound effect on how all art is viewed today Recognizable by almost everyone, yet often seen as something a child could replicate, the art and the movement behind it are often overlooked and misunderstood This book, while at times a little too scholarly, is an excellent introduction to understanding where abstract expressionism came from and who the major players were Beginning with the early days of each of the major abstract expressionists and con Abstract expressionist painting has had a profound effect on how all art is viewed today Recognizable by almost everyone, yet often seen as something a child could replicate, the art and the movement behind it are often overlooked and misunderstood This book, while at times a little too scholarly, is an excellent introduction to understanding where abstract expressionism came from and who the major players were Beginning with the early days of each of the major abstract expressionists and continuing until the end of the movement and influence on contemporary art, the history is well outlined and easy to follow The origins of Still and Pollock in the American West near Native American and outdoor communities, the influence of cubism, the traumas of World War I, the commissions from depression era government programs, and people groups fleeing the violence leading to World War II, created the conditions for this new art movement in New York City Rather than a single stroke of inspiration, abstract expressionism moved from realism to pictorial and hieroglyphic depictions, to symbolic expression, and then finally complete abstraction The famous drip paintings of Pollock, the cloudlike forms of Rothko, and the zip lines of Newman came after years of gradual inspiration and innovation This book provides a clear narrative to the movement, coupled with dozens of images of the art The context and progression are accessible and instructive The book is attractive to someone with little knowledge of art and the abstract expressionists as well as to someone with substantive knowledge This book was a gift to me from my boyfriend who is in love with the abstract expressionism movement and wanted to introduce me to the movement This book is a great little book for anyone interested in American art, specifically for the abstract expressionist movement as the book title implies The information is digestible for those who are brand new to abstract expressionism The image quality is also great If there s any art history professors out there reading this, I strongly recommend t This book was a gift to me from my boyfriend who is in love with the abstract expressionism movement and wanted to introduce me to the movement This book is a great little book for anyone interested in American art, specifically for the abstract expressionist movement as the book title implies The information is digestible for those who are brand new to abstract expressionism The image quality is also great If there s any art history professors out there reading this, I strongly recommend this book to at least sample from if you talking about contemporary specifically 1940s 1960s American art When I took art history at college, I though this school of art was just so much b.s But over time, it s grown on me Not enough pictures to make it a great art book. For a newbie like me, reading Anfam s primer on the abstract expressionism movement was a slog I now know exactly how little I know about abstract expressionism Granted, I now know muchthan I did Unfortunately, that muchis, in relative terms, squat as compared to the whole What can I say I ve been outed as a prole.Anfam makes a couple of big mistakes in Abstract Expressionism First, he includes mostly black and white photos of the artist s works Really Second, he compares For a newbie like me, reading Anfam s primer on the abstract expressionism movement was a slog I now know exactly how little I know about abstract expressionism Granted, I now know muchthan I did Unfortunately, that muchis, in relative terms, squat as compared to the whole What can I say I ve been outed as a prole.Anfam makes a couple of big mistakes in Abstract Expressionism First, he includes mostly black and white photos of the artist s works Really Second, he compares the works photographed to others not photographed It s hard enough as a reader to force yourself to Google scads of artwork titles to find photos Throw in the need to Google the approximately 150 artwork s photographed in black and white, you have yourself a significant research project on your hands.All of that said, I loved seeing the earlier and later works of Gorky, Guston, Kline, Motherwell, Newman, Pollock, Rothko, Still, and others Turns out radical abstraction didn t arise out of nowhere The abstract artists could actually paint wait for it figures Gasp An informative but unnecessarily challenging read This is the second overview I ve read about the Abstract Expressionists The first, a slim 80 page overview by Debra Bricker Balken, was meant to get my feet wet, acquaint me with the major artists in the movement, makingin depth study easier down the line Turns out, the opposite happened Balken s book implied enough prior knowledge that I found myselflost than ever, as long, comparative lists of artists whose work I had never seen were trotted out to prove every point Although This is the second overview I ve read about the Abstract Expressionists The first, a slim 80 page overview by Debra Bricker Balken, was meant to get my feet wet, acquaint me with the major artists in the movement, makingin depth study easier down the line Turns out, the opposite happened Balken s book implied enough prior knowledge that I found myselflost than ever, as long, comparative lists of artists whose work I had never seen were trotted out to prove every point Although Anfam s book is twice as long anddetailed, I actually found it significantly easier to follow, and came away with a deeper understanding of the movement in quotes because of the lack of blanket idea or direction joining this disparate group of artists THIS is the primer I was looking for.Things Anfam gets right he explores each artist from their earliest point of development, so you get to see the representational, almost traditional works from Pollack, Rothko, Kline, and Guston, before they became what they became, as well as all the incremental progress along the way Illustrated with art pieces from other eras cubist especially and other representational styles of the time, you get a clear sense of what artistic and emotional walls the Abstract Expressionists where trying to batter down In doing so, you come to realize that the Abstract Expressionist era is a shockingly short period of time in the span of these artists development seven to eight years, topsroughly as long as the Beatlesand maybe only four of those are really concentrated into the style we think of Most helpfully, descriptions of certain paintings are footnoted in the margins, corresponding numerically to the illustrations in the book Anfam will continue to refer to the same paintings over and over, regardless of where they land in the book, meaning that the reader will have to flip back 40 pages to see said de Kooning painting again This is extremely helpful, however, because it examines certain key paintings from several different angles, not just the physical process, but also where it stands in the artist s conceptual development, how it was received by the art world, and where the artist took it next I also like that Anfam referred to the outside world s perception of Abstract Expressionist art and modern art in general via New Yorker cartoons, Norman Rockwell parodies, etc as well as techniques in photography and sculpture that mirrored Abstract Expressionist concepts In my limited readings and viewings on this subject, I d call this book the essential introduction to the era My only major complaint and it is rather major was that many maybe even most of the illustrations were printed in black and white presumably for budgetary reasons , even though the painting is in color Why the publishers chose to cut corners in this way is beyond me Sure, it s a budget introduction, but it seems like a bump up from 16.95 to, say, 24.95 could have covered the extra color printing When discussing an artist s evocative use of deep ochres against sensuous crimsons, and then you look at the painting and it s gray, it feels like a major misstep Also, the final illustration shown is one of Ad Reinhardt s nine panel black on black paintings This is represented in the book as a solid black square, free of nuance or detail Yet, the text painstakingly notes that Reinhardt s blacks were not really black they were ultra dark reds, browns, greens, and blues that bump up against the very edge of ocular differentiation, and require focused attention to note the variations I suppose a full sized Rheinhardt book might be able to reproduce this, but just printing a black square with no nuance and saying it s a Rheinhardt was a really insulting end to a stupendous book