Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mid Century New York Artists, Women artists of the time and Abstract Expressionism

Joan Mitchell was an artist who created art and a life that went out of bounds.  In the art world of the past, women artists were rare.   Women were not expected to live like men, behave like men or paint like men.  Joan was an exception.   She achieved success eventually in the rough and tumble world of Abstract Expressionism.   

Joan was an artist who lived and painted in New York City 1950's and in Paris from the 70's-late 1980's.  Along with Pollack, DeKooning, Kline and many others she helped create this totally abstract style of art work that eventually was called Abstract Expressionism .  Oddly enough, two other examples of successful women artists in this art movement are the wives of Jackson Pollack, Lee Krasner, and William DeKooning, Elaine DeKooning.  Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler were both from wealthy families who continued support.  They were protected from some of the harsher realities other woman artists such as Alice Neel had to endure.

At that time, New York City was alive with action and crawling with vibrant young people who after surviving a horrendous world war, came into a new decade with great vitality and enthusiasm.  These young men and a handful of women who were gutsy enough to get into the action and turned the art world upside down with their WiLd CrAzY ArT

Prior to WWII the art capitol of the world was Paris.  When Pollack, Kline, DeKooning and others slapped paint onto huge canvases and spread creative glory, the world of art sat up and took notice.  The art capitol of the world soon became New York City.  Fresh on a war victory, America was booming with money and confidence. 

These NEW paintings were alive with expressions of the grimy, noisy, forever moving city they loved.  The city was too big to capture in a realistic image.  The life they led in decrepit unheated walk-ups with naked-light-bulb, "illegal for habitation" apartments changed the way the world saw painting from a controlled image directed process to a flat splash of color on background of canvas.  In the process of defining what art meant to them, they survived on coffee and cigarettes while visiting all night cafeterias to meet with other artists.  They felt they needed the "kick in the butt" that only a group of their peers could provide.   They threw paint in drips, strokes and lines across canvas, stretched 10 feet and more across their studios creating the CrAzY art of legends.

These artists were all hard drinking, tough guys, even if they were women!  They lived hard and fast.  America had arrived in the world of art!