How Abstract Expressionism Took Off in New York

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Pollock's 'Number 1A, 1948.' Raw canvas peaks out from choreographed swirls of paint. Many of his works from this era also contain three-dimensional objects such as sand, keys and even thumb tacks. (© 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS).)

In the 1940s and 1950s, a group of New York City artists changed the course of art history with drips, color and aggressive, abstract paintings. Bad boy figures like Jackson Pollock, known for his splattered canvases, Willem de Kooning, who did wild abstractions of women, and female artists Grace Hartigan and Lee Krasner. This weekend, the Museum of Modern Art unveils an eight-month-long tribute to the so-called New York School. "Abstract Expressionist New York" represents the first time in more than four decades that the museum has gathered works by these artists in a single place.

In this week's Arts File on WQXR, WNYC's Kerry Nolan speaks with WNYC Arts Writer Carolina Miranda about the exhibit and about a two-part documentary Miranda created which focuses on the physical spaces in New York that helped fuel the Abstract Expressionist movement: The Cedar Tavern and Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery.

Carolina Miranda/WNYC
Early paintings by Robert Motherwell hang at the Museum of Modern Art's exhibit, 'Abstract Expressionist New York."
Museum of Modern Art. © 2010 The Estate of Grace Hartigan
'Shinnecock Canal,' 1957, by Grace Hartigan -- one of the few women to break through into the Ab-Ex boys club.
Carolina Miranda/WNYC
Hans Hofmann's painting 'Spring,' from 1944-45 (possibly earlier) — reflecting a use of the drip technique at least two years before Pollock would make it famous.


Carolina A. Miranda

Hosted by:

Kerry Nolan

Produced by:

Abbie Fentress Swanson

Comments [2]

When George Braque was asked why he painted what he painted, all he said was: "I paint what I can paint."

Oct. 19 2010 03:38 PM
shadeed ahmad from New York, New York

This is a show for the ages. It will be a soul enlightening barrage of lines, forms, textures and colors that will liberate people (at least temporarily) from the vicious cycle of safe and boring expressions of life.

The Abstract Expressionists will teach us (again) how to express ourselves with bravado, for the love of freedom.

I can't wait to see this phenomenal show.

Oct. 01 2010 08:38 PM

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