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Art Theory Timeline
Introduction

The Art Theory Timeline provides a detailed account of major events in the development of ideas relating to Abstract Expressionism. These events include the publication of articles, lectures, reviews, manifestoes, interviews, and books, between 1931 and 1978. The timeline is divided according to the following key:

Black Line: Early moments in the development of Abstract Expressionist ideas.
Red Line: Moments in the development of Clement Greenberg's ideas, and related interventions.
Blue Line: Moments in the development of Harold Rosenberg's ideas, and related interventions.
Green Line: Dissenting voices in the debate between Greenberg and Rosenberg.
Purple Line: Moments in the later critical reception of Abstract Expressionism following the decline of the movement.

Hofmann's Artistic Purity
John Reed Club Manifesto
American Artists' Congress
Barr's Art Diagram
American Abstract Artists
"Avant- Garde and Kitsch"
"The Fall of Paris"
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939
1940
1941

Guide to Reading Art Theory Timeline View

1931-1941
Before the outbreak of World War II, Social Realism provided the dominant artistic style in New York, representing and reflecting the tumultuous political and social climate of the Depression. During this time artists in the city were influenced from a number of different directions, initially by Marxism - which stressed the importance of socially relevant art - and later by Freudian psychoanalysis, Cubism and Surrealism.

1942-1954
Throughout the early 1940s many artists began to experiment with abstraction, and by the end of the decade the Abstract Expressionists were experiencing their most important breakthroughs. During this time critics such as Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg developed theoretical justifications for the new styles, and, by the mid 1950s, critical debate was focussed around the ideas Greenberg put forward in his essay "American-Type Painting," and those launched by Rosenberg in "The American Action Painters." During the early part of the period, many moved further away from the political beliefs they had held in the 1930s, while some began to embrace Existentialism.

1955-1967
As the movement experienced its most successful phase, critically and commercially, debate between Greenberg and Rosenberg intensified. Some critics and artists took sides, while others - such as Fairfield Porter and Alfred Barr, who had vastly different viewpoints - rejected both positions. Some, such as New York Times critic John Canaday, attacked Abstract Expressionism outright. Greenberg also developed and evolved his ideas to reflect the work of a new generation.

1968-1978
As Abstract Expressionism faded in importance in the late 1950s, and new styles emerged, such as Neo-Dada, Pop art and Minimalism, so had new theoretical perspectives gained ground. Art historian Leo Steinberg proposed a new perspective on the movement - different from both Greenberg and Rosenberg. And critics such as Rosalind Krauss attacked the movement's supporters for their blind indifference to the new art of the 1960s.

Conclusion
Abstract Expressionism began in the 1940, flourished in the 50s and faded away by the early 60s. With the emergence of new movements, such as Pop art and Minimalism, critics and theorists became less concerned with Greenberg's theory on medium purity and Rosenberg's theories on actions and emotions. Postmodern critical theory has since largely been confined to academia with the art world being flooded with school-trained artists well informed in art theory. The powerful art market has become a greater influence on art production as critical theory ever was. The 1970s and 1980s stressed an artwork's monetary value as its greatest attribute. This trend has resulted in a number of movements, such as Land Art and Installation Art, where artworks either no object at all or one too large or complex to be privately owned, thus becoming more of an experience than a commodity.