The development of a new American art movement was held in abeyance until after World War II, when the United States took the lead in the formation of a vigorous new art known as abstract expressionism with the impetus of such artists as Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning. Action painting, as the movement was also known, made its impact felt throughout the world in the 1950s. A number of notable developments were led by artists associated with these and other New York school artists. As the influence of abstract expressionism waned in the 1960s, artists came to question the very philosophy underlying modernism. A vast variety of new movements and styles came to dominate the art world that, in the aggregate, can now be seen to mark the beginnings of artistic postmodernism and the post-midcentury shift from modern to contemporary art.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.