Abstract Expressionism is a form of art (mainly painting) that developed after one of the most difficult periods in human history. This period began during the great depression in the 1930's and ended with the end of World War II in 1945. When the war ended, Germany, Italy and Japan had been defeated and much of Europe and Japan were in ruins. The human loss in the Nazi concentration camps had been exposed in all of its horror and the United States had dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, unleashing destructive power of an unprecedented nature. All of this, of course brought about a worldwide examination of basic human values and ethics and a period of dramatic change in art.
Although both the Great Depression and World War II were great disasters, these events were important in forcing a number of the European avant-garde artists to flee Europe for the safety of the United States, where they influenced many younger American artists. It is difficult to know exactly how much this migration affected American art, but part of its impact was that for the first time, American artists became internationally recognized for their new vision and a new artistic vocabulary, all of which soon became known as Abstract Expressionism.
These artists, like others earlier in the century, began to express their feelings and thoughts in abstract form. However, the difference here was that they expressed these abstract ideas and feelings with an energy that had