Blast from the Past: Art of the 1960s

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Pop Art
Abstract Expressionism
Figurative Expressionism
Color Field Painting
Geometric Abstraction
Op Art

Abstract Expressionism

Sam Francis obert Motherwell
 Sam Francis
(American, 1923-1994)
Untitled, 1967-68
Lithograph, 25 x 19 inches
Gift of Harriet Griffin, 73.95.2
 Robert Motherwell (American, 1915-1991)
Automatism B, 1966
Lithograph, 28 x 21 inches
MSU purchase, funded by the Kathleen D. and Milton E. Muelder Endowment, 2005.18

Abstract Expressionism continued on for decades gaining adherents such as Richard Hunt and Sam Frances among the second generation in the 1950s and 1960s. The point of the movement, which grew out of strains of both Surrealism (automatism) and Cubism (abstract structure), was to let the painting guide the painter, rather than the painter imposing a program or composition on the painting. One used something to get the canvas started, then it was a kind of call and response, give and take until the painting started to give up imagery or compositional effects to the painter. Jackson Pollock was best known for dripping or squirting the paint on. Of those represented in the exhibition, Willem De Kooning used palette knives as well as brushes and Barnett Newman laid it on in thin overlain veils. They were all called Action Painters and they were deadly serious about it. Some young painters still turn to Abstract Expressionist principles.

Kresge Art Museum | Michigan State University