Abstract Expressionism has a rich history, much like many other art movements. This particular movement is a post-World War II movement that was developed sometime during the 1940s in New York. This movement is in American painting and the first movement to gain international recognition and put New York City on the map in the international art world and causing it to be at the center of art in the western world. There has been a lot of discussion as to where this particular term came from, though it was first used in 1946 to describe American art by an art critic named Robert Coates. It was first used in Germany in 1919 to describe a German art movement and was later used 10 years later by Alfred Barr in the United States to discuss the art work from Wassily Kandinsky. This movement was also extremely popular in the San Francisco Bay area.
The name of this movement came from the combination of the European abstract movements (including Synthetic Cubism, the Bauhaus, and Futurism) and the self-denial and intense emotions of the German Expressionism. It is also includes elements that give it a feeling of anarchist, nihilist, and quite rebellious, all things that have attracted artists to this moment. Stylistically, there are many similarities between Abstract Expressionism and early 20th century Russian artists like Wassily Kandinsky. These paintings are a paradox, being both spontaneous and carefully planned. This was a style that gained a lot of mainstream attention in the 1950s, though the reason for this is still heavily debated today.
Abstract Expressionism is a predecessor to the Surrealism movement and has an emphasis on creations that are from the subconscious, are spontaneous and automatic.