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Abstract Expressionism
by Gary Comenas

abstract expressionism

| 1800-1899 | 1900-1909 | 1910-1919 | 1920-1924 | 1925-1927 | 1928-1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 |
| 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 (a) | 1945 (b) | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 (a) | 1948 (b) | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 |
| 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970-1974 | 1975 - 1979 | 1980s +|

The AbEx Chronology
by Gary Comenas (2009)

A chronological account of the first-generation artists of Abstract Expressionism and the transition in the United States from Realism to Surrealism, from Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism and from Abstract Expressionism to Pop.

(Scroll down and click on a highlighted item. Use the back button of your browser to return to this page.)

Realism vs Abstraction
(1800-1938)

1. Births

jackson pollock

Jackson Pollock 1928
(from high school yearbook)

Robert Henri | John Sloan | John Graham | Marcel Duchamp | Stuart Davis | André Breton | Sidney Janis | Adolph Gottlieb | Mark Rothko | Arshile Gorky | Willem de Kooning | Meyer Schapiro | Clyfford Still | Barnett Newman | Misha Reznikoff | John Ferren | Harold Rosenberg | Leo Castelli | Clement Greenberg | Franz Kline | Philip Pavia | Matta | Jackson Pollock | John Cage | Philip Guston | Robert Motherwell

2. Beginnings

armory show poster

The Art Students League opens | The Eight | First U.S. solo exhibition of Picasso | The Armory Show | Mark Rothko arrives in U.S. | Arshile Gorky survives the Armenian genocide | Duchamp's urinal at the Society of Independent Artists exhibition | Arshile Gorky arrives in the U.S. | Willem de Kooning arrives in the U.S. | First exhibition of the Société Anonyme | First solo exhibition by Kandinsky in U.S. | André Breton publishes his Manifesto of Surrealism | The term "Abstract Expressionism" is first used in the U.S. | The stock market crashes | Artists hang out at Romany Marie's and the Jumble Shop | Jackson Pollock studies under Thomas Hart Benton | Surrealism at the Julien Levy Gallery | The first concentration camp in Germany is announced | The Artists' Union is formed | The Section of Painting and Sculpture is launched | Art Front | "Abstract Painting in America" at the Whitney | The WPA is launched | The Federal Art Project is launched | The Ten | The first American Artists' Congress takes place | "Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism" at the Museum of Modern Art

* * *

Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism
(1939-1945)

3. Surrealists flee Europe for the U.S. during World War II

Matta

Matta 1941

Wolfgang Paalen emigrates from France | Picasso's Guernica is shown at Valentine Dudensing | Matta, Breton and Tanguy stay at Gordon Onslow Ford's chateau in Chemilleu | Adolph Gottlieb paints Surrealist still-lifes | Matta arrives in New York | Marcus Rothkowitz becomes Mark Rothko | Arshile Gorky meets Matta | Stanley William Hayter arrives in the U.S. and uses a "drip can." | Gordon Onslow Ford arrives in the U.S. with "poured canvases." | Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Meyer Schapiro and others start the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors | Emergency Rescue Committee | Chateau Hoping for a Visa

4. Myths

view magazine

The April 1942 issue of View magazine featuring
André Breton's article "The Legendary Life of Max Ernst:
Preceeded by a Brief Discussion on the Need for a New Myth."

Jackson Pollock drips. Carl Jung's Essays on a Science of Mythology is published | Richard Pousette-Dart shows that size matters | Abstract Expressionists attend Gordon Onslow Ford's lectures on Surrealism | Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko paint myths. Jackson Pollock fails the draft. Robert Motherwell goes to Mexico with Matta and begins painting The Little Spanish Prison. André Breton arrives in the U.S. Adolph Gottlieb paints Pictographs. Peggy Guggenheim and Max Ernst arrive in the U.S. Arshile Gorky's solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art. Arshile Gorky marries Agnes Magruder. Lee Krasner meets Jackson Pollock. Pearl Harbor. Artists in Exile at the Pierre Matisse Gallery. André Breton discusses myths in April issue of View magazine. Harold Rosenberg and Breton discusses the need for a new myth in May issue of View.

5. Art of This Century

gallery

Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery

VVV is published | Max Ernst drips | Arshile Gorky sketches a waterfall | Marcel Duchamp arrives in New York | Matta practices automatism with Abstract Expressionists | "The First Papers of Surrealism" exhibition | Art of This Century opens | Matta has twins | Jackson Pollock's first solo show at Art of This Century | Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rotho discuss myths on WNYC. | Artists hang out at the Waldorf Cafeteria | Did Jackson Pollock piss in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace? | Arshile Gorky works on The Liver is the Cock's Comb | Was Jackson Pollock gay? | Mark Rothko's first solo show at Art of This Century | Arshile Gorky's first show at Julien Levy | Little Boy is dropped | Jackson Pollock moves to the Springs

* * *

Abstract Expressionism: The Irascibles
(1946-1959)

6. "Existentialism, honey, Existentialism"

no exit

Publicity still from the Broadway production of Jean Paul Sartre's play, No Exit, at the Biltmore Theatre
with a cast featuring Ruth Ford (r) - the sister of View editor, Charles Henri Ford - and a set designed by
Frederick J. Kiesler who also designed Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery.

Jean Paul Sartre lectures in the U.S. | Mark Rothko begins painting Multiforms | Arshile Gorky's paintings are destroyed in a fire | Franz Kline paints his first abstract painting | Arshile Gorky is diagnosed with cancer | Arshile Gorky has a colostomy | Existentialism in View magazine | Philip Guston is featured in Life magazine | Jackson Pollock begins the Accabonac Series and Sounds in the Grass Series, including Shimmering Substance | Betty Parsons Gallery opens with Indian exhibition | Willem de Kooning writes to his father | No Exit on Broadway | Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman and Adolph Gottlieb visit Philip Guston in Woodstock | Jean-Paul Sartre criticizes the Surrealists

7. Arshile Gorky, R.I.P.

gorky

Last photo of Arshile Gorky taken at the Glass House by Wilfredo Lam
in July 1948, clearly showing the traction device he had to wear as the
result of a crash in a car driven by his art dealer, Julien Levy.

Jackson Pollock drips | Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme in Paris fails to excite critics | Only issue of Possibilities is published | Cedar Street Tavern | First issue of Tiger's Eye | Franz Kline paints 'white' paintings | Willem de Kooning paints black and white abstractions | Philip Guston paints The Tormentors | Jackson Pollock in Time magazine | Arshile Gorky's father starves himself to death | Mark Rothko's "The Romantics were Prompted" appears in Possibilities | Barnett Newman begins his Zip paintings | Matta visits the Gorkys | Gorky's wife has a secret rendezvous with Matta | Gorky is injured in a car accident making him unable to paint | Willem de Kooning teaches at Black Mountain | Gorky's final days | Arshile Gorky commits suicide

8. The Irascibles

irascibles

The "Irascibles" in the January 15, 1951 issue of Life magazine
Front row: Theodoros Stamos, Jimmy Ernst, Barnett Newman, James Brooks, Mark Rothko
Middle row: Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell, Bradley Walker Tomlin
Back row: Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, Hedda Sterne

The Subjects of the Artist School opens | Robert Motherwell paints Granada | Mark Rothko exhibits his Multiforms | Life magazine asks if Jackson Pollock is the greatest living artist in the U.S. | The Club opens | "Black or White" paintings at Kootz | Willem de Kooning's Woman I | Hans Namuth films Jackson Pollock | Franz Kline's first solo show in NY. | Jackson Pollock in Time magazine | The Irascibles | Philip Guston paints White Painting | The Museum of Modern Art acquires Rothko's 'classic' Number 10, 1950 exhibited in his final Parsons show | Rothko, Pollock, Still and Newman ask Betty Parsons to drop other artists | Ninth Street Show | Jackson Pollock paints it black | Jackson Pollock has a car accident | John Cage comments on Guston painting "nothing" | Clement Greenberg comments on Pollock's new figurative style in Harper's Bazaar | Fifteen Americans at MoMA | Franz Kline teaches at Black Mountain College | John Cage presents Theater Piece No. 1 at Black Mountain College

9. Jackson Pollock R.I.P.

jackson

Photograph of Jackson Pollock and Ruth Kligman taken on
the day of Pollock's death by Edith Metzger, the passenger in Jackson's
car who was also killed in the same car accident that killed Pollock

Willem de Kooning begins affair with Joan Ward | Richard Stankiewicz | Robert Rauschenberg erases a de Kooning | Willem de Kooning drinks | De Kooning's first show at Janis features Woman paintings | Jackson Pollock drives on the wrong side of the road | Jackson Pollock in drunken stupor | The Red House | Yves Tanguy dies | Rothko's first show at Janis | Lee Krasner exhibition at the Stable Gallery | Joan Ward gives birth to de Kooning's daughter, Lisa | Time magazine refers to Jackson Pollock as "Jack the Dripper" | Jackson Pollock meets Ruth Kligman | Jackson Pollock rejects "Abstract Expressionism" | The death of Jackson Pollock

10. Seagram Murals

Rothko photo

Mark Rothko
(http://kunstschau.netsamurai.de/category/kunst-hamburg/)

A drunken spree inspires Franz Kline's Chicago, Calumet City and Orleans | Leo Castelli Gallery opens | Adolph Gottlieb shows Burst paintings at the Martha Jackson Gallery | Barnett Newman shows Vir Heroicus Sublimis | Willem de Kooning begins an affair with Ruth Kligman | Elaine de Kooning's article on Rothko and Kline as "Americans in Action" is published in Art News annual | Robert Motherwell shows a Je t'aime painting at the Whitney Annual | Allan Kaprow challenges the Club | Jasper Johns | Allan Kaprow at the Hansa Gallery | "The New American Painting" travels through Europe prior to the Museum of Modern Art | The Museum of Modern Art becomes the first U.S. museum to purchase a painting (Abraham) by Barnett Newman | Mark Rothko changes his name legally | Mark Rothko writes his will | Mark Rothko's Seagram Murals | Willem de Kooning stays with Ruth Kligman in Rome | Allan Kaprow's 18 Happenings in Six Parts at the Reuben Gallery | "Sixteen Americans" at the Museum of Modern Art | Mark Rothko backs out of Seagram deal

* * *

Abstract Expressionism vs. Pop
(1960-1969)

11. The Times, They Were a Changin'

ray gun exhibition poster

Poster for Claes Oldenburg's "The Store"
(Although the poster gives the date of "The Store" as
December 1 - 31, it was extended through January 1962)

Barnett Newman finishes 3rd & 4th paintings of Stations of the Cross | Ray Gun | The times, they were a-changin' | Franz Kline punches Jean Fautrier | First Situationist exhibition in the U.K. | Willem de Kooning punches an Air France engineer at the Cedar | John Graham dies in London | Mark Rothko at the Museum of Modern Art | Mark Rothko tells his doctor that 'he'd been living on alcohol for six weeks' | Abstract Expressionists denounce the New York Times art critic | Mark Rothko visits England | Barnett Newman's Onement VI shown at "American Abstract Expressionists and Imagists" | Willem de Kooning punches Clement Greenberg | Claes Oldenburg's Store

12. Pop Art and a New Abstraction

cartoon

Los Angeles Times, August 1, 1962

Mark Rothko agrees to do the Harvard Murals | Willem de Kooning has an affair with Mera McAlister | Franz Kline dies | Life magazine reports on Pop Art - "Something New is Cooking" | Andy Warhol's Soup Can | Sidney Janis goes Pop | Cedar Street Tavern closes | William Baziotes dies | Mark Rothko blanks Warhol and Kligman | Pop Art in Time magazine | "Toward a New Abstraction" concentrates on hard-edged second generation abstract artists | Mark Rothko signs with Marlborough | Milton Avery dies | Burgoyne Diller dies | De Kooning hires Michael Wright | Robert Motherwell retrospective at MoMA | Scull sells | Philip Guston paints commonplace objects | Andre Breton dies | Barnett Newman asks "Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?" | Frank O'Hara dies

13. Drinking Again

sad to glad cover

The book published by Mark Rothko's psychiatrist in 1974
extolling the virtues of pyschopharmacology (For Rothko
he prescribed Sinequan and Valium despite Rothko's
alcoholism and heart condition)

Willem de Kooning paints new women | Ad Reinhardt dies | Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk is unveiled | Mark Rothko has an aneurysm | Mark Rothko "going completely to seed" in Provincetown | Michael Wright resigns from de Kooning's employ | Mark Rothko visits his doctors | Bernard Reis drafts new will for Rothko | Willem de Kooning goes to Holland for retrospective | Marcel Duchamp dies | Willem de Kooning survives a car crash | Barnett Newman and Robert Motherwell protest Mayor Daley | Mark Rothko sees a psychiatrist | Robert Motherwell does "Pop Art" | Mark and Mell Rothko separate | Mark Rothko signs second contract with Marlborough Gallery | Dore Ashton visits a "deeply disturbed" Rothko | Mark Rothko begins an affair with Ad Reinhardt's widow | Willem de Kooning retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art | A "soused" Rothko attends first meeting of the Rothko Foundation directors | New American Painting and Sculpture: The First Generation at The Museum of Modern Art | The Mark Rothko Foundation is incorporated | Willem de Kooning goes to Italy | Barnett Newman shows Zim Zum 1 in Tokyo | Willem de Kooning sculpts | Mark Rothko signs a letter of agreement with the Tate in London in regard to the Seagram murals | Mark Rothko has a party

* * *

Deaths
(1970-end)

willem de kooning

Willem de Kooning at the age of 55
(Photo: Walt Silver)

Mark Rothko commits suicide | Barnett Newman dies of a heart attack | Mark Rothko's widow dies | Kate Rothko vs. Marlborough Galleries | Willem de Kooning meets Mimi | Philip Guston shows KKK paintings at the Marlborough Gallery | The Rothko Chapel is dedicated | Willem de Kooning goes to rehab. | Adolph Gottlieb dies | Kate Rothko wins | Willem de Kooning visits the Rothko Chapel | Harold Rosenberg dies of a stroke | Willem de Kooning goes on a binge | Philip Guston suffers a major heart attack | Frank Lloyd is sentenced in the Rothko case | Lee Krasner retrospective at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts | De Kooning's dealer Xavier Fourcade dies of AIDS | Elaine de Kooning dies | Robert Motherwell dies | Willem de Kooning's dementia and death | Matta dies | Milton Resnick commits suicide | Club organizer Philip Pavia dies at the age of 94

Andy Warholline graphic


Abstract Expressionism Essays and Notes

abstract expressionism

| 1800-1899 | 1900-1909 | 1910-1919 | 1920-1924 | 1925-1927 | 1928-1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 |
| 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 (a) | 1945 (b) | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 (a) | 1948 (b) | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 |
| 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970-1974 | 1975 - 1979 | 1980s +|

Notes on Marcel Duchamp

Notes on Stuart Davis

Andre Breton: Surrealism, Dada and the Abstract Expressionists

Notes on Bradley Walker Tomlin

Notes on Jack Tworkov

William de Kooning's Childhood

Willem de Kooning Leaves Holland

Notes on Meyer Schapiro

Arshile Gorky's Childhood

Mark Rothko, Milton Avery, Adolph Gottlieb and the Opportunity Gallery

The Origins of Expressionism (excerpt)

Art Front (excerpt)

The WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the Federal Art Project

The Ten: Nine Artists in Search of a Cause

Arshile Gorky's Newark Airport Murals

Elaine de Kooning

Excerpt from "Avant-garde and Kitsch" by Clement Greenberg

Robert Motherwell, Matta and Wolfgang Paalen in Mexico

Adolph Gottlieb's Pictographs

Agnes Magruder and Arshile Gorky

Edward Alden Jewell vs. The Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors

The Portrait and the Modern Artist: Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko

Excerpt from "The Plasmic Image" by Barnett Newman

Alfred Jensen on Mark Rothko

Chasing Dash Snow (excerpt)

abstract expressionism

| 1800-1899 | 1900-1909 | 1910-1919 | 1920-1924 | 1925-1927 | 1928-1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 |
| 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 (a) | 1945 (b) | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 (a) | 1948 (b) | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 |
| 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970-1974 | 1975 - 1979 | 1980s +|