The paintings featured here is by Karl Schmich Rottbuiff, it is titled Houses at Night, and was painted in 1912. I like this painting for its simplicity and its finesse. The colours are bold and primary, giving a feeling of organised chaos. I love the way the yellow bleeds into the reds and the greens, and the shading of these colours. I also like the strident black lines painted around the houses, the push-pull feeling, the lack of blank space. This painting has a cluttered feeling to it, but the effect is of organised chaos.
The abstract expressionists came out of the school of German Expressionism.
German Expressionism - The world of light and shadow
German Expressionism was largely a response to World War One and its barrage of horrors. German expressionism is a polar opposite to the school of the impressionists, who were often criticised for their lack of subject matter. German Expressionism was also a response to both the symbolists and the neo impressionists. It was a response to the war torn world, it was about darkness and death, and the ravages of war.
This painting speaks to me of organised chaos, the painting feels unsettled.. This painting has primary colours toned down, the brushstrokes are rapid and confident, and the colours seem to compete with each other for attention.
Abstract Expressionism helped to define the 1940's and was New York based. It included painters such as Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Willem de Klooning, Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell. They were mostly interested in abstracting the figurative. The Abstract Expressionists also critiqued the Impressionists with their darker, deeper, supposedly more meaningful paintings. They were a response to the war and the depravity of man. They were commentators on the Great Depression, left wing politics, class war, the darkness of man (supposed), man's inhumanity to man.
The painting pictured below is a Rothko, called Untitled, painted in 1949. It is oil on canvas and of large dimensions. This is part of a series painted in the same year. Rothko did not name his work, as he preferred to leave titles and descriptions to the viewer's own imagination and response.
I like this work for its sheer boldness, the way that the colours are blocked in with what looks to be sweeping gestures. The colours are graduated, and behind the yellow white can be seen. It screams with vibrancy. I love the layered colours, the blocked in spaces, the immediate feel of paint on paint. This work speaks of elegance and urgency. How strong the colours are, yet there is a definite softness to them. Rothko liked to speak of the silence of his paintings, therefore he liked to leave his work untitled. It was for the viewer to respond.
Below is another Untitled from the same series. I love it for its rich vividness of colour. The deep, burnished red against the soft brown. The creamy, white flecked block of pale neutrality. The paint is applied thickly, with broad brushstrokes, applied fast, yet with careful organisation. This painting has depth and emotional impact. It has punch and power and life. I love the subtle tonal shifts in the two slabs of red. This paining is pleasing to the eye, and the juxtaposition of the colours and shapes give impact.