Over fifty years have passed since Abstract Expressionism burst onto the New York City art scene, quickly attaining singular prominence as the first school in American painting to declare its independence from European styles. New assessments of its impact and importance continue to emerge. Yet, while much has been written about the movement’s broad range of stylistic diversity, its sociological and psychological dimensions, and its cultural significance in the United States, little attention has been paid to the interaction of its artists on the international scene. Abstract Expressionism: The International Context fills this gap by providing an in-depth exploration of this truly global art movement.
Bringing together fifteen original and path-breaking essays by world-class authorities on Abstract Expressionism as well as by younger scholars, this anthology looks beyond the canonical painters to explore the broader connections among abstract artists of the post–World War II era. Moving from the margins to the center, the essays recognize the contributions of artists working far beyond New York City. Topics include Jackson Pollock’s contact with Mexican muralists and the legacy of Abstract Expressionism for leftist artists in Latin America, the relevance of Jean-Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett as sources of philosophical thought, the significance of northern European CoBrA painters such as Asger Jorn, the impact of Japanese Gutai artists, and connections with the revolutionary art of Italy, Belgium, and France. Abstract Expressionism is also described as a model for contemporaneous developments in the former Soviet Union.
As the first book to consider the movement in relation to post–World War II abstraction on four continents, this book brings a fresh perspective to this widely studied school of painting. Scholars and students alike will find this anthology essential reading in creating a more complete and nuanced understanding of Abstract Expressionism.
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Joan Marter is a distinguished professor of art history at Rutgers University. She is the author of Alexander Calder and the editor of Off Limits: Rutgers University and the Avant-Garde, 1957-63 (Rutgers University Press).
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