Abstract Painting, Abstract Art, Absolute Art
As I work as an abstract painter I consider it important to define myself within this huge framework in terms of its history and development.
Abstract Art already existed in the archaic style epochs, and it was rediscovered through Modernism as an adequate means of expression encompassing all the changes that had occurred in the 20th century on how man saw himself and the world (1). From an etymological point of view "Abstract Art/Abstract Painting" means detached, non-representational, object-free art (from Latin: abstrahere - "to detach")
It was the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who practically and theoretically defined Abstract Painting. Very soon two main currents developed: on one hand one deriving from Expressionism which was very emotional and later evolved into a free, gesture-driven way of painting (Free Painting). This movement aimed at the complete dissociation from representational art and emphasized color, form, structure and composition (Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Hans Hartung). At the same time however yet another trend evolved; a rather intellectual, Cubism influenced, Geometrical Abstract Art (Michail F. Larionow, Frantisek Kupka, Kasimir Malewitsch, Piet Mondrian). This bias later evolved into "Post-Painterly Abstraction", an art of Geometric forms without any personal handwriting by the painter. Main representatives hereby are Frank Stella ("What you see is what you see"), Louis Noland, Ellsworth Kelly, Al Held, Jules Olitsky.
What both movements have in common is that they overcome representational art and thus become detached from their own origin in the Greek civilization (with its tradition of representing man, in contrast to the Ornamentalism of the East). The artist wants to represent his inner self, the non-visible instead, and thus gives a spiritual dimension to his work. Only color, form and line count and structure and composition become very important. Abstract working artists very often also call their work Absolute Art, which, alienated from its cultural roots, opens uptowards a total freedom.
Abstract Expressionism, Informal Art, Gesture of Color
Etymologically seen "Expressionism" and Expressionist Painting" means first of all expressive art: the artist wants to express his feelings and thoughts, and do so undisturbed by any object-centered representation.
In Germany, Abstract Expressionism originally had been the term that described some of the works Kandinsky painted in the 1920's. However, it was not until the 1940ies and 1950ies that it gained importance being emphasized by the artist group New York School (William Baziotes, Arshile Gorky, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still). Ab-Ex now referred to a very new, free way of paining which was partially influenced by European Artists who had emigrated to the U.S.A. for political reasons.
In the meantime in Europe the French Tachism developed (a spontaneous application of blots of paint without considering any principles of composition), and later Informel (or: Informal Art). The latter was a trend that demanded a completely "in-formal art" and rigorously dismissed both geometric forms and abstract or conceptual representation of real objects (Antonio Tàpies, Jean Dubuffet, Wols (Wolfgang Schulze)). Of course, all these movements influenced themselves mutually and there was a lively exchange between America and Europe.
Informal Abstract Expressionism
In Informal Abstract Expressionism all rational drafts are renounced in favor of a spontaneous way of working in large gestures. The result is an unplanned, quick mode of operation that is sometimes referred to as Automatism. The goal is to ideally work without any control by the intellect and thus create art that stands beyond any aesthetic