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Art and the Abstract Expressionism movement

During our trip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, we will have the opportunity to see some of the most influencial pieces of art made in modern times, including Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans and Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Amidst these works are paintings by Abstract Expressionists from the early 1950s. Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko produced visually different kinds of paintings, but much of their intentions were similar – both wanted their work to confront raw emotion and expression. Pollock’s painting is an an expression of his emotions and thoughts, whilst Rothko’s engages the viewer and can evoke a viceral reaction.

Below is an excerpt from Simon Schama’s The Power of Art episode on Mark Rothko (the whole hour long documentary is lovely if you’re interested in Rothko). The first five minutes briefly contextualise Rothko and Pollock’s work.

An excerpt from the same documentary gives a great insight into the thoughts of Mark Rothko.

This short film was made in 1951 by Hans Namuth who returned to Pollock’s home to film him a year after taking the iconic photographs of Pollock painting. The film is narrated by Pollock and provides an understanding of the rhythm and purpose with which Pollock’s drip paintings were created.

Sarah Boxer wrote this great article for the New York Times, which not only tells the story of Namuth’s filming and Pollock’s reaction, but also discusses the influence of those initial photographs on the art world, and how they really shifted the way we look at art to also include the thoughts of the artist’s experience of making and the process of creating.

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