Abstract Expressionism and Suprematism are two movements within the broader field of abstract art that emerged in the early 20th century. Despite their similarities in rejecting traditional forms of representation, these two movements have distinct differences in their approaches to form, color, and composition.
Suprematism, which emerged in Russia in the early 1910s, was led by Kazimir Malevich. Malevich sought to create a new art that was free from any connection to the physical world, in which art was reduced to the basic elements of shape and color. In his seminal work, “Black Square,” Malevich created a stark black square on a white background, which he saw as the ultimate expression of non-objectivity. Suprematist compositions were characterized by simple geometric shapes, often arranged in a grid-like pattern, and a limited color palette that emphasized primary colors.
Abstract Expressionism, on the other hand, emerged in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, and was characterized by a more gestural approach to painting. This movement was led by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning, who sought to create a new kind of art that was more emotional and expressive than the formalism of European modernism. Abstract Expressionist works were characterized by large, sweeping brushstrokes, drips, and splatters, often in a highly saturated color palette.
While both movements rejected traditional forms of representation, the motivations behind their rejection differed. Suprematism sought to create a new art that was completely divorced from the physical world, while Abstract Expressionism sought to create a more visceral and emotional art that was rooted in the artist’s own experience. Additionally, while Suprematism emphasized the use of basic geometric forms and a limited color palette, Abstract Expressionism was characterized by a much wider range of forms and colors, often applied in a highly spontaneous and improvisational manner.
Another key difference between the two movements was their relationship to the broader cultural context in which they emerged. Suprematism emerged in the tumultuous years leading up to the Russian Revolution, and was characterized by a utopian spirit that sought to create a new, more egalitarian society. Abstract Expressionism, on the other hand, emerged in the aftermath of World War II, and was marked by a sense of disillusionment and existential anxiety. Many Abstract Expressionist works are characterized by a sense of chaos and fragmentation, reflecting the uncertainty of the postwar period.
In conclusion, while both Suprematism and Abstract Expressionism rejected traditional forms of representation, they differed in their approaches to form, color, and composition, as well as their motivations for rejecting traditionalism. Suprematism sought to create a completely new kind of art that was divorced from the physical world, while Abstract Expressionism sought to create a more emotional and visceral art that was rooted in the artist’s own experience. Ultimately, both movements made significant contributions to the development of abstract art, and continue to be studied and appreciated by art historians and enthusiasts alike.