Period of American Modernism

For much of the 20th century, American art followed two distinct, often overlapping courses: abstraction and realism. New artistic ideas from Europe on perspective, color and subject were increasingly influencing many artists. These experimental artists simplified and exaggerated their increasingly personalized interpretations of the natural world to different degrees, creating works that intellectually and emotionally engaged their viewers in bold new ways. By mid-century, a few painters began creating works that featured their hand gestures at the expense of recognizable subject matter. This gave rise to the first truly original American style of art, known as abstract expressionism. Alternatively, many artists maintained that realism, not abstraction, defined their views into the American scene. The dominant realist painters of Delaware and beyond often borrowed from the loose brushwork, emotional colors, and spatial distortion of abstraction.