Modern Art After Second World War

The postwar period saw the emergence of the United States as the centre of new art movements. These movements reflect influence of pre-war modern art but in the second half of the 20th century, many artists departed from the traditional media and started experimenting with new technology.

Some of the most influential modern art movements after Second World War include:

Abstract Expressionism. It refers to an art movement that developed in the 1940s United States and became the first American movement of international importance as well as made New York City one of the centres of Western art. Most notable artists of Abstract Expressionism include Jackson Pollock, William Baziotes, Michael Goldberg and Morris Graves, to mention only a few.

Colour Field painting. Another modern art movement that developed in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s was closely related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of the movement’s leading figures also played an important role in the rise of the former. As an art style, Colour Field painting emphasises form over the process. Some of the most prominent Colour Field painters include John Hoyland, Frederick Spratt, Thomas Downing, Barnett Newman and Gene Davis.

Pop art. Unlike Abstract Expressionism and Colour Field painting that emerged in the United States, Pop art developed in Britain from where it spread to the United States. By using imagery from popular culture, Pop art departed even further from the traditional art forms and is considered both a reaction and expansion of the preceding mid-20th century modern art movements. Notable figures of Pop art include Andy Warhol, Billy Apple, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney and Gerald Laing.

Op art. Also known as optical art, Op art refers to an art style which uses illusion, often creating an impression of movement or/and patterns. The term Op art was first used in the mid-1960s but works which are today considered notable examples of the style were created much earlier. Most famous artists using optical illusions include Bridget Riley, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Julian Stanczak, Victor Vasarely and Tony DeLap.

Conceptual art. Also known simply as Conceptualism, origins of Conceptual art date to the early 20th century but it emerged as an art movement only in the 1960s and 1970s. As an art style, Conceptualism was by some cultural critics received as refreshing and innovative, while the others described it as distasteful and even rejected it as art. Some of the key figures of the movement with a major influence on contemporary art include Joseph Kosuth, Robert Barry, Lawrence Weiner, Terry Atkinson, Michael Baldwin and Daniel Buren.