A second abstract movement, which began in the mid-thirties had become by the forties the dominant trend in American art overshadowing a vigorous school of realist painting which had continued to flourish. Like surrealism abstractionism was nurtured by disillusion, fear and the awareness of helplessness in the face of the insoluble contradictions of contemporary capitalist reality. For many artists it became a refuge from reality, a withdrawal into an egoistic self expression Abstractionism is an extreme form of modernism, and evidence of the deep crisis of modern bourgeois culture. It deforms the outside world to the point of making it unrecognizable and resulted in the complete disintegration of form. The abstractionists severed the last ties which connected their art with visible reality. They maintain that art does not reflect, does not cognize reality, but is a means of expressing the subconscious emotional experience of the personal, instinctive artist. Their works are practically devoid of any image-bearing, intellectual, emotional or ideational content and sense. Their paintings are a confusion of patches and lines, their sculptures a conglomeration of absurd forms of metal, wood or stone Preaching unlimited arbitrariness and subjectivism in artistic creation they violate the fundamental principles of art they discard drawing and composition in painting and the reproduction of actual forms of the material world in sculpture By denying the criteria of artistic values in art, and by discarding national forms and traditions, abstractionism corrupts people's aesthetic taste, diverts them from the cognition of human life and human struggle and cankers their love for their national culture.
Abstractionism has a number of varieties. Joseph Walker Tomlin and Irene Rice Pereira represented the geometric or precise mode of abstraction which preval in the mid-thirties. Free-form abstraction was dominan in the forties. and fifties. This mode of abstraction goes by the name of "Abstract Expressionism" and is represented by American art critics as being "the most significant movement" "the triumph of American painting Abstract Expressionism developed by the fusion of expressionism - with its emphasis on emotional intensification, abstraction - with its rejection of representation of reality, and surrealism with its reliance upon automatism.
The way for Abstract Expressionism was paved by Arshile Gorky and Adolph Gottlieb, who were deeply involved in surrealist argument. About 1950 Abstract Expressionism broke into gestural abstraction or action painting (Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning), symbolic Abstract Expressionism (Robert Motherwell, William Baziotes Theodoros Stamos) and chromatic or colour-field abstraction (Mark Rothko, Barnett Newmann, Clyfford Still, Mark Tobey). They have different styles and techniques, but all of them have they have nothing to do with real life one common feature and very little with art.
The "action painting" arising out of the "psychic automatism" of surrealism, came closest to pure automatism. With "action planned was by methods, in which the physical action of painting determined the final forms. Traditional brushwork gave way to ing or pouring the pigment on to the canvas. The most celebrated of action painting Jackson Pollock placed his enormous canvases on the floor and moved buckets around them puddling and splashing pain producing a vortex of swirling lines, spatters, and drips.
Some of Pollock's paintings (and a few of Mark Tobey’s, James Brooks’, Fritz Glarner's) possess at least a certain decorative quality which is lacking in the works of A. R. Motherwell, M. Rothko, A. Gottlieb and others, whose harsh and muddy colours and slovenly of smears produce powerful colour impression "to protest against the reputed equivalence of American painting and literal painting.”
Willem de Kooning's woman series in which monstrous fullbodied, wide eyed, toothy female figures materialize from a chaos of slashing brushstrokes and anatomical fragments spread across the canvas appeared to have run its course.
The decade of the 1960’s saw new trends, some a outgrowths of abstraction, some as reactions against it. The most influential "movement" of the sixties was pop art, opposed to the rude world of actual objects that are passed as "works of art” as fresh link to the current life . Pop art utilizes the common banal features of American daily life, billboards, comic strips, cans and even different sort of rubbish from a dump. The turn to real objects is upon concepts borrowed from the earlier schools of modernism complexes of "stream of consciousness refusal to express a concrete idea. These concepts are expressed by visual information and commodities wrenched from their habitual context actual objects as such, Pop art works offer to the viewer an unlimited set of disconnected associations political, commercial, sexual, which break in upon one another. No evaluation, interpretation or commentary is possible merely express a frigid attitude of noninvolvement. "The implication American art critic remarks, "that nothing can be done about a materialistic worldly society plunged into situations so that the only sensible attitude is one of the acceptance of the realities This secured for pop art official support "as truly American art" and at the same time made with left young movements, hippy ideology, etc. Though pop art was a reaction against abstraction there is much in common between them. They both display a passionate concern with visual experience.
The leading exponents of pop art in America were Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann, Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg.
R. Rauschenberg combines abstraction with pop art devices incorporating commonplace mass-produced items into his canvases. (See picture below). The result is a conglomeration of cloth, bits of newspaper, strips of canvases, splashes, blobs or drips of paint with stuffed animals, furniture, kitchen utensils, bottles, photos and the like protruding from the canvas or merging into it. His notorious masterpiece "The Bed" represents an actual pillow and a patchwork quilt splashed liberally with paint.
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s Rauschenberg continued his experimentation, concentrating primarily on collage and new ways to transfer photographs. In 1998 The Guggenheim Museum put on its largest exhibition ever with four hundred works by Rauschenberg, showcasing the breadth and beauty of his work, and its influence over the second half of the century. Rauschenberg lives in Florida and continues to work, bringing his sense of excitement and challenge into a new century.
Andy Warhol, perhaps the most pupularised of the pop artists and standardized consumer society as labels newspaper headlines magazine of manufactured product photographs makes pictures with currency and stamps. He makes pictures of soup-cans, tomato ketchup, n Coca-Cola bottles of famous personalities (Jacqueline Kennedy Jackie), film stars (Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Tylor); of works of art (Mona Liza, Thirty Are Better Than One). Warhol has created several Disaster series depicting car crashes, suicides, the electric chair etc. Each image is mechanically repeated a great number of times by means of mass-reproduction devices (photomechanical silk screening), e. g. One Hundred Campbell's Soup Cans, Green Coca-Cola Bottles or 5 Deaths 11 Times in Orange Roy Lichtenstein draws upon comic strips for his inspiration. His pictures are like comic book illustrations painted in bright colours and enlarged to a gigantic scale (over 13 feet in length) James Rosenquist is inspired by advertizing, especially the huge omnipresent billboard. He is known to have produced the largest pop painting, entitled F-111. The canvas is larger than the fighter bomber it represents and is 86 feet long. It 51 panels.
Tom Wesselmann found his inspiration in the bathroom. He is best known for his Great American Nudes and bathroom collages in which real (toilet paper, toilet seat, etc.) are incorporated with painted airy female figure painted flat.
Claes Oldenburg is famous for his sagging soft sculptures of food items and household utensils made of vinyl stuffed with kapok and enlarged to an absurdly gigantic size (Giant Hamburger)
By the late 1960s pop art became outmoded. "The rapidity of artistic change in the 1960s was unusual even in a period accustomed to the swift dispersal of outmoded styles into inglorious obsolescence," remarks Milton Brown. It is impossible to classify the bewildering number of modern movements that rocked the American art world in the sixties and seventies pop art. junk, assemblage, hard edge that lourished in the sixties re superseded by Op, Minimal Land, Systemic Primary, Performance, Body, Process, Conceptual, Post-Studio, and Light and Movement Art, that dominated the scene in seventies. These trends carried still further the drastic switch from tradition and a nihilistic attitude to the culture of the past and to humanitarian The bounderies of American art became so flexible that anything might be included from earthworks and videotape events to cornflakes scattered in an open area, grease, dirt, leaves ice blocks melting on a gallery floor or merely verbal statements and print. The search for novelty is very characteristic of the present day world and very often this is the primary concern of the artist. Speaking about the accelerated pace of innovation, Jack Levine very aptly compared it with the rat race "I think that the abstract, the non-objective, the modernistic artists have lost themselves in the wilderness. I think they have been motivated by a continuous sequence of rebellions one against the other so nobody remembers which came first, the why and wherefore of what they are doing.
Huge sums are donated by the art patrons for the museums of modernistic and propaganda of modernism through exhibitions The Museum of Guggenheim was founded in Solomon R. New York, the Museum of Modern Art was set up in 1939 by Ockfellers. of modernism as an official ideology of the United States is also manifested by the dominance of modernistic works at various national and international art exhibitions (Venice Biennial Paris Juvenile Biennial National Exhibition of American Art in Moscow), by the of sponsors to turn exhibitions into a forum of modernism, to make it pass as the main modern artistic phenomenon.
Sources: The Art of USA, painting, sculpture, I.P. Turishev.