In 1946 the art critic Robert Coates, writing in The New Yorker, first used the term 'Abstract Expressionism'. The two words combine the emotional intensity of the German Expressionists with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European Abstract schools. Although they were being painted by then little-known artists working in low-rent studio space, works of Abstract Expressionist art now dominate the walls of major museums. The last major collective Abstract Expressionism exhibition to have taken place in the UK occurred in 1959. This bold publication, and the exhibition it accompanies, seeks to redress the balance and re-evaluate the movement, recognising its complex and fluid reality, and encompassing sculptors such as David Smith and photographers such as Aaron Siskind as well as some of the most famous painters of the twentieth century.
David Anfam is author of the now-standard 1990 textbook Abstract Expressionism. Susan Davidson is a senior curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Jeremy Lewison is former director of collections at Tate. Carter Ratcliff is an art critic, writer, and poet, and the author of numerous books on art.