in New York in the late 1930s and influential until the late 1950s, abstract expressionism was the first major international art movement to originate in the United States. In painting, it combined cubism, fauvism, abstraction, expressionism, and surrealism. In poetry, as in painting, the style is marked by spontaneity, gesture, focus on process rather than product, invitation of accident, and collaboration. Its influence on American poetry is not limited to a single group of poets, although the ideas, works, and events that gave rise to abstract expressionism are closely associated with the new york school, a group of overlapping and acquainted poets, critics, and painters. Of the New York school poets, James schuyler and John ashbery wrote early art criticism of "action painting," another name for the art movement. Frank o'hara worked as a curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), but he modeled for and collaborated with more figural painters associated with the expressionists, including Fairfield Porter and
Larry Rivers. The poetry of Ashbery, Kenneth koch, and Barbara guest displays surrealism's influence on expressionism; indeed, Koch and Ashbery translated surrealist works. O'Hara's book lunch poems was part of Lawrence ferlinghettis City Lights Pocket Poets series, which is more closely associated with the beats. The Beats shared abstract expressionism's interest in spontaneity.
Abstract expressionist painters, including Robert Motherwell, taught at black mountain College. Painters, such as Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and painter and critic Elaine de Kooning, studied there. The poet Robert creeley, also on the Black Mountain faculty, continued to collaborate with visual artists; Charles olson's theories of breath and gesture in his essay "Pro-jective Verse" draw on abstract expressionist ideas.
san francisco renaissance poets also share a relationship to abstract expressionism: Robert duncan through Black Mountain, and Jack spicer through teaching at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), where abstract expressionist painters, including Mark Rothko, also taught.
Various abstract expressionist purposes and styles continue to cross-pollinate: Some poetry anthologies combine abstract expressionism-influenced poetics under the term postmodernism. Critics generally consider there to be three generations of New York school poets. The second generation of New York school poets includes such varied poets as Ann lauterbach, David lehman, and Alice notley, as well as others associated with New York's Poetry Project (see poetry institutions), which, while unique, nevertheless represents a variety of Black Mountain, Beat, and New York school aesthetics. The third generation consists of poets who have studied at the Poetry Project.
Abstract expressionism in poetry is marked by extreme abstraction of form. Lines, even when the work is written in verse form, are broken by gesture, syntax, or musical "movement." A colloquial tone reflecting an American idiom builds toward forming thematic unity, completing a rhythm, or developing or creating a "return," a minimal version of the lyric epiphany. Koch and Ashbery's delirious sestina collaborations retain the envoy, the concluding stanza, albeit a ridiculous one; O'Hara's "Why I Am Not a Painter" and "The Day Lady Died" build toward the last sen tence; and Schuyler's "Morning of the Poem" establishes its unity through an extremely natural repetition and variation. The origins of the poetry are markedly conceptual, based on an idea for a poem; phenomeno-logical, based on an attempt to capture experience; or collaborative, either with an artist working in another medium or with another poet. Poems are identified with experience rather than description. Invitation of "occasion" and tolerance of experiment set the stage for Language poetry's application of the experience of language and reflection of process to critique "art for art's sake." In poetry, abstract expressionism's extended consideration of the pictorial plane and the artistic process—where gesture and field replace the use of arrangement of objects or images to create depth— becomes an open, minimal, or discovered form, uses the page as a canvas, considers the way language handling changes content, and queries the unitary "I."
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