But it is above all in the post-war period that the American figurative arts achieved results of great originality: artists such as A. Gorky, M. Tobey, J. Pollock, W. De Kooning, M. Rothko, A. Calder, assimilated the European avant-gardes from expressionism to surrealism, have made fundamental contributions to international culture, influencing it in turn. Around the fifties he dominated the current of Action Painting (also called “abstract expressionism” as a reaction to the rigorous rationalism of geometric abstractionism, or “action painting”) which gives fundamental value to the instinctive transcription of impulses and gestures on the canvas; this is represented by J. Pollock (of which the technique called dripping is characteristic), W. De Kooning, F. Kline, R. Motherwell, W. Baziotes, while the personality of M. Rothko has centered his research on color and on the light. In the Sixties, the Action Painting season ended, two trends have emerged polarizing the best artistic expressions around them. The first, called New Abstraction, creates simplified, geometric forms, considered autonomous and valid for themselves, that is, devoid of symbolic meanings (K. Noland, F. Stella, R. Ryman). Minimal art has taken its origin from this current, which represents the maximum reduction of expressive and iconic data to enhance the structural potential of the geometric shapes proposed (R. Morris, D. Judd, A. Smith etc.). The second trend is that of pop art, which inserts in the pictorial context or isolates and amplifies the symbols of the civilization of consumption and mass culture, creating apparently uncritical montages, in reality highly polemical and ironic (R. Rauschenberg, J. Johns, J. Dine, A. Warhol, G. Segal, J. Rosenquist). According to thereligionfaqs, the worldwide resonance of pop art has given the United States great cultural prestige and a leading role in the development of contemporary art. The recent current of hyperrealism derives from pop art, at least for what concerns the theme (which represents a rebirth of that realist and figurative tradition always present in American culture), which is expressed through paintings and sculptures of meticulous optical fidelity and perfect illusionism (R. Estes, D. Eddy, D. Hanson, J. de Andrea).
Although in the manifestations of contemporary art it is very difficult to draw the boundaries between painting and sculpture, some artists belonging to the most varied abstract-constructive or informal tendencies, such as D. Smith, S. Lipton, T. Roszac, L. Nevelson, J. Chamberlain and above all the aforementioned Alexander Calder, with his mobiles that arise from a conception of forms and open and dynamic spaces. Among the other interpreters of kinetic art we should also mention G. Rickey, fascinated by geometric shapes in motion and by the balance between engineering and the forces of nature. R. Serra, on the other hand, is known for his monumental sculptures: metal works inserted in natural contexts that demonstrate reflection on materials and propose an idea of sculpture as a phenomenological experience of space, weight, gravity and time. Finally, starting from the seventies, the US contribution to the definition of the so-called conceptual art is important, which brings together those tendencies that reject the work of art as an object, as such commodifiable, turning instead to achievements that are valid as actions, operations, events or documentation of events (photographs, sound recordings). Historical protagonists of the conceptual current are J. Kosuth, artist and movement theorist who works on the combination of objects and words, and S. LeWitt who changes the conventional rules of artistic practice and its production through the abolition of the unrepeatability of the work. and the individual skill of the artist in favor of an absolute primacy of the idea. In the field of conceptual art of particular interest are body art (body art), in which the artists express themselves through their own body, with demonstrative gestures (J. Jonas, G. Pane) and land art or earth art (art of the territory), which changes the vast free spaces of the Country: the geometric designs traced by W. de Maria on the sand of a dried up lake are characteristic of this trend. The decline of conceptual art coincided, in the late seventies, with the return to the traditional practices of sculpture and painting. It is the postmodern current, in fact, that re-proposes consolidated artistic techniques and gives importance to the visual dimension. In particular, in painting postmodern thought is combined in Neo-expressionism with D. Salle e J. Schnabel.