: The prime example of geometric abstraction is Piet Mondrian's neo-plasticism
, a style that consists of rectangles painted in the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. While geometric abstraction emphasizes the conceptual, intellectual side of art, painterly automatism is about emotionality and spontaneity. "Painterly" refers to a seemingly unfinished technique of painting, in which the brushstroke remains clearly visible and serves as a means of expression. "Automatism" refers to the intuitive and spontaneous aspect of painting, as if the paint is applied without thinking. During the 1940s and after WWII, painterly automatism became the dominant approach to abstract art in the form of abstract expressionism
and art informel
Freedom of abstract art
How free can abstract art be, that is the question. As abstract expressionists felt limited by the abstract-geometric and cubistic bounds, abstract paintings began to gain expression and at the same time "lose shape". Abstract paintings by Jackson Pollock demonstrate how abstract expressionism moved towards
the production of paintings without conscious control. How effective is abstract art when the emphasis on form is reduced, or absent? Is there a trade-off between expression and form? These are interesting questions about paintings which should transcend the "its all just a matter of taste" platitudes.
The creation of abstract expressionism in America had been preceded in the mid 40's by Europeans like Wolfgang Schulze (aka "Wols"). "Wolfgang Schulze was the spiritual father of 'Tachism' (after the French tache
= stain, scratch) and in a broader sense of art informel, the style of wild gestures" and 'action painting', a rebellion against the formalism of abstract codes, that reintroduced 'feeling' in art, by freely applying the paint, dripping and splashing" (after "Kunst van de 20e eeuw" - Ruhrberg, Schneckenburg, Fricke, Honnef - Taschen Verlag GmbH).
Contemporary paintings no longer reflect a contraposition
between abstract art and figurative art, but these styles either come together in paintings by contemporary artists, or exist side by side in pure figurative paintings or pure abstract art paintings.