The Royal Academy’s exhibition gives a glimpse of New York’s artistic scene in the aftermath of the Second World War.
For a brief time before McCarthyite witch hunts of the 1950s, the city was full of promise.
You could hear Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie forging bebop’s frenetic sound, Billie Holiday’s aching voice or watch Marlon Brando on stage.
The term “Abstract Expressionism” really refers to this specific period, not a particular artistic style.
Instead of painting picture-like images, these artists experimented with different techniques to make marks on canvass. But their approaches differed a lot.
On show are Jackson Pollock’s two most significant paintings Mural (1943) and Blue Poles (1952). He created them on his studio floor using a dripping process.
Franz Kline’s images make you think of blurred photos taken at speed on New York’s streets.