Painting Beyond Pollock

A lively and accessible history of European and American painting from the mid-20th century onwards

Morgan Falconer


Price: USD$79.95

Painting, with its endless capacity for reinvention, continues to occupy a privileged position in Western art. Since the mid-20th century, new practices have pushed art into territories such as performance and installation, leading some critics and artists to declare painting irrelevant or even finished. But these developments have, in fact, driven painting to new heights of innovation and interest, making these seventy years arguably the most lively in its history.

Morgan Falconer tells the story beginning with Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists on both sides of the Atlantic, proceeds through postwar abstraction in France, social realism in East Germany, the end of geometric abstraction in Europe, American post-painterly abstraction, the handmade ready-mades of Rauschenberg and Johns, Pop's rise in Britain and the US, painting's confrontations with photography in the 1960s and beyond, the return of expressionism in the 1980s, new approaches to Pop in the 1990s and 2000s, and the continued variety of some of the most recent paintings to be made by a younger, 'post-medium' generation of artists.

Painting Beyond Pollock is an illuminating guide for both specialists and enthusiasts of painting, written in language that is intelligent and accessible.


Format: Hardback
Size: 290 x 214 mm (11 3/8 x 8 3/8 in)
Pages: 384 pp
Illustrations: 260 illustrations
ISBN: 9780714868776

Morgan Falconer teaches at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York. He previously worked as a journalist and critic for newspapers and magazines including The Times, Art Review, Burlington Magazine and Frieze. He has also interviewed leading figures in contemporary painting, including many who are featured in this book, such as Peter Doig, Luc Tuymans, Elizabeth Peyton, Neo Rauch and Ellsworth Kelly.

Contents and sections:

Painting Beyond Pollock is a history of American and European contemporary painting that traces its roots - exploring why contemporary artists continue to paint. Its chapters are loosely chronological, starting with the rupture of the end of World War II and coming right up to date - they are also telling parallel histories of abstraction and figuration throughout this period.

Explains why the book is needed, why it starts where it does, and what is does and doesn't include in its remit and why.

Chapter 1: Things Must be Pulverized: Abstract Expressionism
Charts the move from figurative to abstract painting as the dominant style of painting (1940s & 50s)
Key artists discussed: Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko

Chapter 2: Wounded Painting: Informel in Europe and Beyond
Meanwhile in Europe: abstract painters immediate responses to the horrors of World War II (1940s & 50s)
Key artists discussed: Jean Dubuffet, Lucio Fontana, Viennese Aktionism, Wols

Chapter 3: Post-War Figurative Painting
Surveys those artists who defiantly continued to make figurative work as Abstraction was rising to dominance - including Social Realists (1940s & 50s)
Key artists discussed: Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Alice Neel, Pablo Picasso

Chapter 4: Against Gesture - Geometric Abstraction
The development of a rational, universal language of art - the opposite of the highly emotional Informel or Abstract Expressionism (1950s and early 1960s)
Key artists discussed: Lygia Clark, Ellsworth Kelly, Bridget Riley, Yves Klein

Chapter 5: Post-Painting Part 1: After Pollock
In the aftermath of Pollock's death: the early days of Pop, Minimalism and Conceptual painting in the USA (1950s and early 1960s)
Key artists discussed: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly

Chapter 5: Anti Tradition - Pop Painitng
How painting survives against growth of mass visual culture: photography and television - if you can't beat them, join them (1960s and 70s)
Key artists discussed: Alex Katz, Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol

Chapter 6: A transcendental high art: Neo Expressionism and its Discontents
The continuation of figuration and expressionism in the 1970s and 80s, including many artists who have only been appreciated in later years (1970s & 80s)
Key artists discussed: Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anselm Kiefer, Julian Schnabel,

Chapter 7: Post-Painting Part II: After Pop
A new era in which figurative and abstract exist side by side rather than polar opposites plus painting expands beyond the canvas (late 1980s to 2000s)
Key artists discussed: Tomma Abts, Mark Grotjahn, Chris Ofili, Christopher Wool

Chapter 8: New Figures, Pop Romantics
Post-cold war, artists use paint to create a new kind of 'pop art' - primarily figurative - tackling cultural, social and political issues (1990s to now)
Key artists discussed: John Currin, Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, Neo Rauch, Luc Tuymans

"Every bit as comprehensive and authoritative as E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art… Concepts and movements are explained concisely, while the range of art covered [ … ] is both diverse and inspiring." —Artists & Illustrators

"Thought-provoking... [Falconer] writes well, cites many a worthwhile quotation, and includes lots of good reproduction. ...useful primer ...enjoyable ...a huge achievement, somewhat akin to Norbert Lynton's The Story of Modern Art." —The Art Newspaper

"Every bit as comprehensive and authoritative as E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art… Concepts and movements are explained concisely, while the range of art covered [ … ] is both diverse and inspiring." —Artists & Illustrators

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