Abstract impressionism (closely related to lyrical abstraction) is a type of abstract painting (not to be confused with abstract expressionism) where small brushstrokes or application with a palette knife build and structure larger surface areas. The artist's emotion and focus on inner energy, and sometimes contemplation, create expressive, lyrical and thoughtful qualities in the paintings. The brushstrokes are similar to those of impressionists such as Monet and post-impressionists such as van Gogh and Seurat, only tending toward abstraction. While in the action painting style of abstract expressionism brushstrokes were often large and bold and paint was applied in a rapid outpouring of emotion and energy, the Abstract Impressionist's short and intense brushstrokes or non-traditional application of paints and textures is often done slowly and with purpose, using the passage of time as an asset and a technique. Milton Resnick, Sam Francis, Richard Pousette-Dart, and Philip Guston were notable abstract impressionist painters during the 1950s. Paul Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956), known as Jackson Pollock, was a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement, and Canadian artist Jean-Paul Riopelle helped introduce Lyrical abstraction to Paris in the early 1950s.
Elaine de Kooning coined the term "abstract impressionism" and it was soon used by critic Louis Finkelstein in an attempt to distinguish for Philip Guston the difference between the two forms. The primary difference is in approach. The similarity between the two forms, however, is in the final outcome – what is acceptable as a finished piece.
Lawrence Alloway curated an exhibition of the same name in 1958 and included, among others, Bernard Cohen, Harold Cohen, Sam Francis, Patrick Heron, Nicolas de Staël. A contemporary heir to the abstract impressionist form is William Duvall, whose eco-abstract paintings are done outdoors.
- Halsall, Francis (3 September 2008). Systems of art: art, history and systems theory. Peter Lang. p. 207. ISBN 978-3-03911-073-5. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
- Elderfield, John; Louis, Morris (1986). Morris Louis: the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Little, Brown. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-87070-419-2. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
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