Action Painting - A style of abstract painting that uses techniques such as the dribbling or splashing of paint to achieve a spontaneous effect. In Action Painting the canvas is the arena in which the artist acts. The action of painting becomes a moment in the biography of the artist -- the canvas becomes the index (record) of the event. Most associated with several of the Abstract Expressionist artists, including Willem De Kooning (Dutch, 1904-1997, active in the US) and Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956), though not all Abstract Expressionists were Action Painters.
Willem de Kooning (American, born Netherlands, 1904-1997), Woman, 1944, oil and charcoal on canvas, 46 x 32 inches (116.8 x 81.3 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Willem de Kooning, Night, 1948, oil on canvas, 23 x 28 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts. See nocturne.
Franz Kline (American, 1910-1962), Palmerton, Pa., 1941, painting, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.
Franz Kline, Two Seated Women, ink and pastel on paper, sheet 22.4 x 29.9 cm, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA.
Franz Kline, New York, N.Y., 1953, oil on canvas, 79 x 51 in. (200.6 x 129.5 cm), Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
Franz Kline, Untitled, c. 1954, oil on paper, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX.
Franz Kline, Four Square, 1956, oil on canvas, 1.99 x 1.29 m (78 3/8 x 50 3/4 inches), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Franz Kline, C & O, 1958, oil on canvas, 1.96 x 2.79 m (77 x 110 inches), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Franz Kline, Siskind, 1958, oil on canvas, Detroit Institute of Arts, MI.
Franz Kline, Untitled, c. 1959, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.
Franz Kline, Merce C, 1961, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.
Franz Kline, Untitled, 1961, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.
Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956), The Moon-Woman Cuts the Circle, 1943, oil on canvas, 109.5 x 104 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris. See the WebMuseum's page about Pollock.
Jackson Pollock, Night Mist, 1945, oil on canvas, Norton Museum, West Palm Beach, FL.
Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947, enamel and aluminum paint on canvas, 71 1/2 x 35 1/8 inches (181.6 x 89.2 cm), Dallas Museum of Art.
Jackson Pollock, Number 26 A, Black and White, 1948, oil on canvas, 205 x 121.7 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.
Jackson Pollock, Painting (Silver over Black, White, Yellow and Red), 1948, painting on paper mounted on canvas, 61 x 80 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.
Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm (#30), 1950, oil on canvas, 105 x 207 inches (266.7 x 525.8 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Jackson Pollock, One (Number 31, 1950), 1950, oil and enamel on unprimed canvas, 8 feet 10 inches x 17 feet 5 5/8 inches (269.5 x 530.8 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.
Jackson Pollock, The Deep, 1953, painting on canvas, 220.4 x 150.2 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.
Robert Motherwell (American, 1915-1991)
Philip Guston (American, 1913-1980), Barnett Newman (American, 1905-1970), c. 1960, ink on paper, Estate of Philip Guston, courtesy McKee Gallery, New York City.
Sam Francis (American, 1923-1994), In Lovely Blueness, 1955-1957, oil on canvas, 300 x 700 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.
Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928-).
Photographs of the artists:
Nina Leen (American, 1909-1995), The Irascibles, 1950, Life magazine. Front row, left to right: Theodore Stamos, Jimmy Ernst (son of Max Ernst), Barnett Newman, James Brooks, Mark Rothko. Middle row: Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell, Bradley Walker Tomlin. Back row: Willem De Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, and Hedda Sterne.
Arthur Swoger (American, 1912-), Philip Guston in his New York loft, 1957, gelatin silver print, Estate of Philip Guston, courtesy McKee Gallery, New York City.
Hans Namuth (American, 1915-1990), Pollock painting, 1950, gelatin silver prints, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. This is one of at least five photographs Namuth made of Pollock painting. Their publication in Life magazine in 1951 caused a great sensation.
Here is a second one,
and a fifth.
Hans Namuth, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Tony Smith at the Betty Parsons Gallery, gelatin silver print, April 1951, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC.
The nearest equivalent European movement is Tachisme.