Proto-Abstract Expressionism

4 April 2015
Compares four art historians’ views on the transitional school and the 1930s-1940s work of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Arshile Gorky.

Proto-Abstract Expressionism was a transitional stage in the 1940s in which the developing Abstract Expressionists produced the works that led directly to the later movement. On the question of influences and development various art historians and critics hold differing views. A comparison of the views of several writers will clarify the manner in which various sources influenced Proto-Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko, Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock and how their works, in turn, led to the development of Abstract Expressionism.

Proto-Abstract Expressionism was developmental in nature and critics and historians do not assign a role in this stage to works that did not take in influences that were later manifested in Abstract Expressionism. Thus, for example, a historian might judge that early Regionalist-influenced works by Pollock and …

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