“An umbrella term which refers to that direction in abstract art characterized by spontaneous and individual abstract expression in a non-objective manner. While the term was first applied to certain of Vassily Kandinsky’s early experimental paintings, it mostly refers to artists working in the 1940s and 1950s, including Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Sharing a similar outlook rather than a style, these artists sought total freedom for psychic expression on the canvas. Believed by some to be the first truly American art, the movement is also called the New York School because its international center was New York City. The influence of abstract expressionism extended into the 1970s with Lyrical Abstraction.”
Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.