During the time of Abstract Expressionism, art became more for the artist – a relationship you could say with the brush and the process of painting because the painting was just as the result. They were disconnected from humanity because all their senses of happiness were dissipated from World War 2 and showing their significations through art was their way to reconstruct a basis of long lasting connection.
Accessing of the subconscious – not knowing what one has painted until one has finished – is evident in the pieces like “Number 1 Lavender Mist” by Jackson Pollock, and “Gotham News” by Willem de Kooning, and “The Liver is the Cock’s Comb” by Arshile Gorky. This kind of painting consisted of visible brush work on a large scale which often left the artist exhausted since the process of physically expressing their emotions through painting was like a battle – an arena in which to act.
“Number 1 Lavender Mist” by Pollock is an oil and enamel gesture painting full of intricate webs of colors. If one looks close up to it, the characteristics of his actions are evident – movements of his swift arms, foot prints and hand prints. His paintings, along with most artists during this movement, painted on a large scale so the sense of being enveloped was present while being close up. In expressionism painting, the element of intuition and accident play a large and deliberate part – this was a principal contribution found in its own inspiration through automatism. Politics, psychology, and philosophy played a pertinent role in abstract expressionism paintings; Pollock was influenced by the works of Carl Jung and his views of dreams. “When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.”
Color-field painting embodied a sharp change from the earlier movement of action painting. The artists involved with this change moved toward a more impersonal and sharp way of painting – a push and pull of the rational and intellectual. In their works they dealt with what they considered to be the fundamental formal elements of abstract painting: pure, un-modulated areas of color; flat, two-dimensional space; monumental scale; and the varying shape of the canvas itself.
Barnett Newman was well known for his works pertaining to religion and philosophy. “Man, Heroic and, Sublime” portrays the consistency of looking for control. The background is the world before creation and the lines were interpreted as man. Sublime – a mixture of awe and terror – was God’s most powerful thing. Ideas of abstraction were evident in his paintings because like a lot of artists during the World War 2 period, he was frightened – the aspect of not giving too much information signifies an important symbol. His zips dealt with the upright human being, proud to be alive. The surface of his paintings could be seen which embodied the creation of chaos. A blank canvas, to him, was uncontrolled nothingness.