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Modern Artists in Abstract Expressionism

Below are biographies and analysis of the work of the artists central to the Abstract Expressionism movement. Read more about the movement on the Abstract Expressionism Overview page.

Abstract Expressionism: 33 of 212 Total Artists

Albers, Josef

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Josef Albers was a German-born American painter and teacher. Celebrated as a geometric abstractionist and influential instructor at Black Mountain College, Albers directly influenced such artists as Rauschenberg, Twombly and Ray Johnson.

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Baziotes, William

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William Baziotes was a first generation Abstract Expressionist painter who worked in a Surrealist, lyrical style.

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Bearden, Romare

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Romare Bearden celebrated the black American experience, which he integrated into greater American modernism. He found his own voice by creating collages made up of cut and torn photographs found in popular magazines that he then reassembled into visually powerful statements.

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Chamberlain, John

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John Chamberlain is best known for his sculptures made of crushed and twisted automobile parts, works that bring the formal qualities of Abstract Expressionist painting into three dimensions.

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Clark, Edward

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Ed Clark, a New Orleans-born painter, was an Abstract Expressionist artist who pioneered the use of shaped canvases in New York.

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De Kooning, Elaine

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Elaine de Kooning was an important Abstract Expressionist painter and collagist whose work combines gestural energy with formalist investigations. She was married to the famous New York painter Willem de Kooning.

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De Kooning, Willem

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Willem de Kooning, a Dutch immigrant to New York, was one of the foremost Abstract Expressionist painters. His abstract compositions drew on Surrealist and figurative traditions, and typified the expressionistic 'gestural' style of the New York School.

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De Niro, Robert

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Painter, sculptor and poet Robert De Niro, Sr. was a substantial contributor to post-war American art for his dedication to painterly representation. Vivid, innovative, and representational work distinguished De Niro as a distinct figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement.

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Diebenkorn, Richard

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Richard Diebenkorn was an American painter who helped pioneer the California-based movement of Abstract Expressionism, and later the Bay Area Figurative Movement. In all his work, Diebenkorn used the natural environment as his chief inspiration and applied soft, naturalistic color fields to the canvas.

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Ernst, Max

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Max Ernst was a German Dadaist and Surrealist whose paintings and collages combine dream-like realism, automatic techniques, and eerie subject matter.

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Gorky, Arshile

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Arshile Gorky was an Armenian-born American painter and was a major influence on the development of Abstract Expressionism. In his own art he fused elements of Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism, and was close with key figures central to New York's burgeoning abstrct art scene, such as John Graham, Stuart Davis and Willem de Kooning.

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Gottlieb, Adolph

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Adolph Gottlieb was an Abstract Expressionist painter who commonly used grids, pictographs, and primitive symbols in his work.

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Graham, John

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John Graham was a Ukrainian-born American painter and a key figure in the development of Abstract Expressionism. Never adopting a singular style in his own art, Graham tutored many young abstract artists on the tenets of Cubism and Surrealism, of which he was an expert. Willem de Kooning credited Graham as the person who discovered Jackson Pollock.

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Guston, Philip

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Philip Guston was a Canadian painter during the 20th century. Initially associated with the New York School of abstract art, Guston famously abandoned pure abstraction in the 1950s and turned to figurative art and quasi-abstract cartoon imagery. His later work, for which he is best known, was a major influence on the development of Neo-Expressionism in the U.S.

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Hartigan, Grace

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Grace Hartigan was an American painter and an important figure among the second generation of Abstract Expressionists. Her paintings are characterized by their rich color and bold mixture of abstract and figurative styles.

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Hofmann, Hans

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German-born American painter, art teacher and theorist. Hofmann matured as an artist in 1904-14 in Paris, where he met many of the greatest artists of that time. After he emigrated to America in the early 1930s he enjoyed a prominent career as a teacher, powerfully influencing many Abstract Expressionists with his understanding of European modernism.

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Kline, Franz

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Franz Kline was an American abstract painter and one of the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism. His signature black-and-white abstractions were inspired by Japanese calligraphy, and inspired a later generation of artists who created Minimalism.

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Krasner, Lee

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Lee Krasner was an American abstract painter and a prominent first-generation Abstract Expressionist. A student of Hans Hofmann's, and a pioneer in the all-over technique of painting that later influenced color-field artists such as Frankenthaler, Louis, and her husband Jackson Pollock.

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Lassaw, Ibram

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Ibram Lassaw was an American abstract sculptor, associated with multiple movements such as Cubism, Surrealism and Constructivism. Lassaw's sculpture famously incorporated mixed metals, intricately woven to create what many perceived as abstract paintings in three dimensions.

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Lewis, Norman

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Norman Lewis, a leading African-American painter, was an important member of the Abstract Expressionism movement, who also used representational strategies to focus on black urban life and his community's struggles. Lewis's work is characterized by the duality of abstraction and representation in the depiction of both the city and natural world, and expressing both righteous anger and joyous celebration.

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Abstract Expressionism: 33 of 212 Total Artists



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