American Abstract Painting – Repetition or Difference?

Posted: February 6, 2019 in Uncategorized

First-Wave (European) Abstraction


Wassily Kandinsky
Composition VII (1913)


Kasimir Malevich
Suprematism (1917)


Piet Mondrian
Composition of Red, Blue, Yellow, and White: Nom II


Second-Wave (American) Abstraction


Arshile Gorky
The Leaf of The Artichoke Is An Owl (1941)

Pollock; Autumn Rhythm, 1950

Jackson Pollock
Autumn Rhythm (1950)


Willem de Kooning
Two Women in The Country (1954)

Kline, Untitled 1957.jpg

Franz Kline
Untitled (1957)

  1. Abby Citterman says:

    In my opinion, European Abstraction is that monumental change we discussed in class. Using the same medium and producing dramatically different results, the First Wave introduced an exciting new style, a paradigm shift in the art world. American Abstraction goes far beyond imitation, I believe, and combines old with new. As reflected by the titles of the works alone, the Second Wave goes beyond geometry, beyond fantasy, and reintroduces a sense of nature and reality to abstract art. de Kooning’s piece reminds me of parietal art with its rough and almost generic outlines, but with the color choices and style of abstraction. Kline’s work incorporates the ancient techniques of Eastern calligraphy, with its thick black brush strokes and dynamic form. I feel as though the Second Wave added a new dimension to abstract art and tied it into archaic style — not imitating, but innovating.

  2. Parker Law says:

    I agree with Abby. There is a sense of ruggedness in the Second Wave pieces that is not depicted in the European style. The Second Wave uses aspects and general ideas from the First Wave pieces, combined with a style that is less “high-brow”, to create something that, for me, provokes a lot more thoughts and feelings. The two pieces Autumn Rythm and Composition of Red, Blue, and White show this difference very well. With Composition, there is a lot of negative space and the lines and colors are defined and do not bleed. I think this says something about the European class system in a way, showing how difficult it was to work your way up the classes because they were all so defined and set in stone, with no room for adjustment. On the other hand, Autumn Rythm has very little negative space, the lines are chaotic, and frankly it looks less plain and boring.

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