Abstract Expressionism

Dripping, flinging, rolling, soaking—the Abstract Expressionists did everything academic tradition said not to do with paint.

1945 - 1980

videos + essays

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Hedda Sterne, <em>Number 3—1957</em>
Hedda Sterne, Number 3—1957

Stripes of industrial spray paint on this canvas recall the industrial city and undersides of highways

Norman Lewis, <em>Untitled</em>
Norman Lewis, Untitled

Lewis leaves behind the figure for abstracted fragments at the end of World War II

Beauford Delaney, <i>Marian Anderson</i>
Beauford Delaney, Marian Anderson

Delaney celebrates the famous opera singer Marian Anderson as a modern icon of Black excellence and civil rights

Jackson Pollock, <i>Cathedral</i>
Jackson Pollock, Cathedral

Cathedral by Jackson Pollock is an enamel and aluminum paint on canvas on view at the Dallas Museum of Art and has been part of the collection for more than seven decades. Pollock is known for defining a new era of art by introducing the radical idea of placing his canvas on the ground and applying paint through movement. Works like “Cathedral” exemplified this new style—Abstract Expressionism—that captured the energy and complex emotions of post-World War II America. Learn more about this masterpiece with Agustín Arteaga, the Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.

<em>Low Water</em> by Joan Mitchell
Low Water by Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell’s Low Water is an abstract oil painting featuring vibrant colors, dynamic brushwork and dripping fields of paint that draw you in both physically and emotionally. Watch Eric Crosby, Director at Carnegie Museum of Art, explore what makes this a masterpiece.

Mark Bradford on Clyfford Still
Mark Bradford on Clyfford Still

"To use the whole social fabric of our society as a point of departure for abstraction reanimates it, dusts it off."

Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm
Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm

Looking closely at Jackson Pollock's great drip painting, Autumn Rhythm

Finding meaning in abstraction
Finding meaning in abstraction

Abstract expressionism invites us in

The Case for Mark Rothko
The Case for Mark Rothko

Why those hazy rectangles, and why should I care? Here’s why.

The Case for Jackson Pollock
The Case for Jackson Pollock

Pollock dripped, flung, scattered, and poured paint on canvases spread out on the floor—but why?

Mark Rothko, <em>No. 210/No. 211 (Orange), 1960</em>
Mark Rothko, No. 210/No. 211 (Orange), 1960

Just because a painting isn’t full of angels doesn’t mean it isn’t spiritual and transcendent.

Willem de Kooning, <em>Woman, I</em>
Willem de Kooning, Woman, I

De Kooning painted image after image on this canvas, continually wiping it down and starting again.

Selected Contributors