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Abstract Expressionism: The Two Key Styles

on January 16, 2023

Abstract Expressionism, one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century, emerged in the United States during the mid-20th century and brought about a revolutionary transformation in the world of visual arts.

Characterized by its spontaneous, non-representational style, Abstract Expressionism challenged traditional artistic norms and ushered in a new era of artistic freedom and experimentation.

Abstract Expressionism is often divided into two main styles: Action Painting and Color Field Painting.

Abstract Expressionism

Action Painting  This style was characterized by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline. Action painters embraced spontaneity and often employed gestural, energetic brushwork. Jackson Pollock, known for his "drip paintings," allowed the paint to flow freely from his brush or dripped it directly onto the canvas. This technique, as seen in his iconic work "Autumn Rhythm," aimed to capture the artist's physical and emotional energy in the act of creation.

Abstract Expressionism - Mark Rothko

Color Field Painting  This style was exemplified by artists like Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Clyfford Still. Color Field painters focused on large, flat expanses of color, creating compositions that emphasized color's emotional and spiritual qualities. Mark Rothko's "Untitled" series, with its luminous rectangles of color, sought to evoke profound emotional responses from viewers and provide a contemplative experience.


Pete Stein

Founder, Galerie Stein

Galerie Stein will be presenting several contemporary Abstract Expressionist artists both virtually at and in our gallery in Montreal in 2024.

Contact: Pete Stein - Galerie Stein at