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Ideas Media Purity

Media Purity

Introduction to Media Purity

'Purity' can be defined as an untainted and desirable object or reality. In art and art criticism, particularly during the time of Abstract Expressionism, the concept of 'purity' was applied to mean an unmixed medium or singular style. Some prominent examples of media purity in Abstract Expressionism include the paintings of Pollock, Hofmann, Newman and Rothko, whose works strived to create "pure" abstractions, void of context, figuration or definitive meaning.

Breakdown of Basic Ideas

Throughout the 1930s and 40s, New York artists experimented with increasingly abstract imagery. By removing any familiar or descriptive subject matter, the paint and canvas itself became the subject.
Critic Clement Greenberg did not consider abstraction to be merely an artistic style, but an actual medium itself. By the early 1940s, Greenberg was promoting the work of artists such as Jackson Pollock and Hans Hofmann, championing their work as pure abstraction. According to Greenberg, if a painting depicts some form of narrative content or figurative form, then it is impure by the fact that two mediums have been combined, painting and literature.
A work of complete abstraction is wholly pure because the canvas maintains its nature as a flat surface, and the paint maintains its nature by not representing anything other than paint.


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