Willem de Kooning
Though many of Dutch-American artist Willem do Kooning’s works retain aspects of figurative painting, most of his pieces showcase his exploration of complete abstraction. Featuring fractured forms, distorted geometric shapes, and busy brushstrokes, his colorful canvases convey a hectic and heavy application of paint.
Helen Frankenthaler, a New York-born artist, also worked in the Abstract Expressionist style. Specifically, she used a soak stain technique to create her collection of Color Field paintings. To create these watercolor-like works of art, Frankenthaler employed paint diluted with turpentine, which resulted in translucent washes of color. To Frankenthaler, the unpredictable nature of the process is just as important as the completed canvas. “You have to know how to use the accident, how to recognise it, how to control it, and ways to eliminate it so that the whole surface looks felt and born all at once.”
Like Frankenthaler, Rothko also created glowing Color Field paintings. His pieces, however, feature more formally-composed blocks of color. Though, today, Rothko is renowned as a major abstract artist, he did not seem himself in that light. “I’m not an abstractionist,” he noted. “I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.”
Agnes Martin is recognized for her minimalist approach to abstraction. Unlike the chaotic canvases of her peers, her pieces employ muted colors and simple compositions to convey quiet contemplation. Given this tranquil aesthetic, it is not surprising that many of her paintings—which she describes as “grids”— are rooted in her love of nature. “When I first made a grid, I happened to be thinking of the innocence of trees, and then a grid came into my mind and I thought it represented innocence, and I still do, and so I painted it and then I was satisfied. I thought, ‘This is my vision.'”