Friday, June 19, 2009

Part 5: Watercolor VS Abstract Expressionism

During the 1940's, artistic experimentation became a major focus in the New York art scene resulting in the development of Abstract Expressionism.

Watercolor began to lose a certain amount of its popularity. It was not a medium which played a role in the evolution of the new movement in abstraction. Watercolors were small and intimate in scale and were subordinate to the huge canvases of the Abstract Expressionists.

However, one such artist, Mark Rothko (1903-1970) utilized large areas of transparent washes and color staining on his canvases to create large scale works which were atmospheric, contemplative and reminiscent of the watercolor tradition.

Later, a second generation of Abstract Expressionist including Sam Francis (1923-1994) and Paul Jenkins (b. 1923) also employed similar wash methods to produce transparent color fields on large canvases. By incorporating watercolor techniques into canvas painting, American artists not only re-popularized the medium but continued a long tradition of innovative experimentation.

Blue Orange Red
Mark Rothko
Oil on canvas

Sam Francis
Acrylic on paper

Phenomena Lasting Dawn
Paul Jenkins
Acrylic on canvas

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