Test Three: The Two Schools
Now that you have learned about a variety of major postwar movements in both America and Europe, we will build your ability to distinguish them from each other. The Postwar Art era featured a variety of aesthetically different movements and styles, but there was an overarching consistent theme— the denial of former ‘fine art’ practices and a move towards the abstract. While these themes can be seen throughout most Post-war Art, there is a change in popular styles from the 1950’s to the 1960’s, with a transition from critically-approved art to politically driven, establishment-questioning art. Whether the art was abstract through its process of creation, materials used, subject matter, or end product, Post-War Art forged ahead as its own movement.
To understand how to distinguish Postwar American and European art, we must delve into the history of the two schools: New York and Paris. Paris had been capital of the art world for most of the twentieth century, but due to persecution and violence, many European artists, curators, and collectors emigrated to the US to escape the effects of war. With an influx of the avant-garde, New York City grew into the capital of the art world. The cutting-edge american artists ruling the postwar scene became what is known as the ‘New York School’ - known for their Abstract Expressionist style and unique methods, such as Action Painting. After the war ended, the many artists who still lived in or returned to Europe would come to be known as the ‘New School of Paris,’ and often emphasised the feelings of loneliness, existentialism, pessimism, and despair from the war in their work.
In this next section, you will learn to decipher art from the ‘New York School’ and the ‘New School of Paris,’ two groups of artists in the US and Europe that dealt with the end of the war in their own way and showcased it in their art.