Friday, February 12, 2016

Artist Names: Abstract Expressionism

Hello, readers!

On this lovely Friday, we have our next installment of the Artist Names series! Click the link for past posts on some of my favorite artists. Today we'll be focusing on relatively the same era as Pop Art, but a different style entirely - Abstract Expressionism!

My favorite Rothko, "No. 14, 1960", currently at the SFMOMA!

Emphasizing the process over the result, abstract expressionism sought to illustrate the inner mind of the artist, and of man itself. Rejecting conventional forms and subjects, their art was radical and innovative for its time. Today, many abstract expressionist paintings are denigrated - "my kid could do that!" - but the ideas, training, and work behind the canvas prove historically important. 

*Disclaimer - a lot of old white guys (and one white woman) below! *

Mark Rothko (Markus Yakovlevich Rotkovich)
Known for his striking, vibrant canvases, Mark Rothko sought to express grandiose ideas of feeling, philosophy and mythology through his use of color. He was known as a revolutionary, politically and artistically, and his art continues to make waves today. Mark, of course, was a majorly popular name throughout the twentieth century, but in this age of uniqueness, I think Rothko could be a contender. The origin meaning seems to be "red", but any more definitive data would be welcome! Rothko fits in with the ends-in-O trend, and sounds quite a bit like rising star Rosco.

Jackson Pollock (Paul Jackson Pollock)
One of the most famous artists of the Abstract Expressionists, Jackson Pollock today is known for the style of drip painting, or splattering rather than swiping paint across a canvas. His desire to show action, emotion, and especially aggression, comes out in frenzied lines and curves of color. The name Jackson today is at #17 in the US - hardly a new choice - but could be an accessible way to honor the influential artist. Being that his last name sounds a bit like a slur, I'd avoid putting Pollock on a birth certificate.

Willem de Kooning
Combining multiple styles of painting into a radical individualized style, Willem de Kooning was known for his abstract works and portraits of women, created throughout his career. His art focused very much on movement and process, often leaving the finished product with an unfinished feel. As for his name: de Kooning might be a bit strong on paper, but I think Willem is an excellent choice. It's close enough to William or Liam to fit in, but definitely stands on its own. Many people today will recognize it through actor Willem Dafoe.

Arshile Gorky (Vostanik Manoug Adoian)
Arshile Gorky was a major founder of the Abstract Expressionist movement, and excelled in conveying the emotional context of his art. A survivor of the Armenian genocide, an immigrant to the US in the 1940's, an avant-garde artist: his experiences were captured and illuminated in his paintings. He picked his name to sound like a Georgian noble - I haven't been able to find any background on Arshile or Archil - and both his chosen name and his birth name might have issues in translating to the US. His daughters are Maro and Natasha, both excellent choices.

Lee Krasner (Lena "Lenore" Krassner)
One of the few women prominent in this movement, Lee Krasner's oeuvre varied greatly in style throughout her life. She took inspiration from all kinds of artists and artistic movements, working extensively in collage, painting, and drawing. She is one of only four women to have had a retrospective at the MOMA (as of 2008). Born Lena, a name that's recently been trending up, she was also known as Lenore or Lee during her life. I think that after years of Ashley, Hailey, and Emily, going back to the basics of Lee would be unique and innovative.

What are your favorites? Any artists I'm missing? Tell me in the comments!

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