Course overview

Conquer your fear (!) of American Abstract Expressionist painting and discover how and why this major art movement of the 20th century dominated international art from the 1940s and beyond. Why did this radical new form of artistic expression originate largely in the studios of New York? What were the main social, political and cultural influences on this new painting style? This course will look at the work of several artists including Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko, among others. We also discuss how and why Abstract Expressionism continued to influence artists internationally in the following decades.

Course description

Why did Abstract Expressionist painting dominate modern art from the Second World War? How did New York steal the limelight from Paris, becoming the centre of modern art from the 1940s? What were the social, political and cultural influences on this new painting style?

From the early 1940s, dynamic new forms of abstract painting developed in America. On this course, we examine the contextual and historical conditions that evolved in and around New York that liberated artistic experimentation with colour, form and scale, resulting in some of the most famous artworks of the mid- century. Art works include Jackson Pollock's expansive 'drip' paintings; Lee Krasner’s gestural paintings; Cy Twombly's bold classical-inspired paintings; and the ‘colourfield’ paintings of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. We explore the work of many of the women artists who were integral to Abstract Expressionism and who historically, have been overlooked: including Joan Mitchell and Grace Hartigan. Through lively discussions and activities, we will question what drew artists to abandon figurative painting for abstraction? How did these radical new artistic forms express the sensibilities of a postwar generation and the rapidly germinating Cold War era?

Other artists featured include Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns and Agnes Martin.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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