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Tapping the Art of Nostalgia in Paintings

A new vanguard emerged in the early 1940s, primarily in New York, where a small group of loosely affiliated artists created a stylistically diverse body of work that introduced radical new directions in art—and shifted the art world’s focus. 

Never a formal association, the artists known as “Abstract Expressionists” or “The New York School” did, however, share some common assumptions and nostalgia in paintings. 

Among others, artists such as Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), Willem de Kooning (1904–1997), Franz Kline (1910–1962), Lee Krasner (1908–1984), Robert Motherwell (1915–1991), William Baziotes (1912–1963), Mark Rothko (1903–1970), Barnett Newman (1905–1970), Adolph Gottlieb (1903–1974), Richard Pousette-Dart (1916–1992), and Clyfford Still (1904–1980) advanced audacious formal inventions in a search for significant content.

Nostalgia Helps You Stay Connected

National surveys show that people are feeling more stressed and lonely because of the pandemic. Nostalgia can help alleviate those feelings of loneliness and may be used as a tool for psychological health.

Waxing nostalgia allows us to feel more connected to our families and friends when we’re apart, by tapping into memories of experiences we’ve shared with them. Research has found that nostalgia also makes people prioritize relationships and connecting with friends. 

“Nostalgia increases the importance people assign to relationship goals, intentions to pursue the goal of connecting with friends, and the desire to resolve a relationship problem,” note researchers in Frontiers in Psychology. By reminiscing about the past and the people in it, nostalgia can help us remember the importance of those loved ones in the present and future.

Mature Abstract Expressionism: Gesture

In 1947, Pollock developed a radical new technique, pouring and dripping thinned paint onto a raw canvas laid on the ground (instead of traditional methods of painting in which pigment is applied by brush to primed, stretched canvas positioned on an easel). 

The paintings were entirely nonobjective. In their subject matter (or seeming lack of one), scale (huge), and technique (no brush, no stretcher bars, no easel), the works were shocking to many viewers. 

De Kooning, too, was developing his own version of a highly charged, gestural style, alternating between abstract work and powerful iconic figurative images. 

Revisiting the Past Revives Hope for the Future

During a pandemic, it can be difficult to feel upbeat about anything. Nostalgia for the past can help boost our optimism for the future. 

A group of researchers conducted four studies designed to measure levels of optimism in those writing nostalgic narratives, recalling nostalgic events, or recalling songs and lyrics that held a special place in memory. 

Nostalgic narratives contained more expressions of optimism compared to ones written about ordinary events, and feelings of optimism got a bigger boost when recollecting nostalgic events and songs.

Color Field

Another path lay in the expressive potential of color. Rothko, Newman, and Still, for instance, created art based on simplified, large-format, color-dominated fields. 

The impulse was, in general, reflective and cerebral, with pictorial means simplified in order to create a kind of elemental impact. 

Rothko and Newman, among others, spoke of a goal to achieve the “sublime” rather than the “beautiful,” harkening back to Edmund Burke in a drive for the grand, heroic vision in opposition to a calming or comforting effect.

The Arts as Nostalgia Therapy During Your Distanced Holiday

Creative activities that tap into nostalgia are made to order for the pandemic, especially as the holiday season approaches. Families and friends who are separated can get together virtually to engage in a wide range of artistic projects to keep the holiday spirit alive.

Key takeaway

It seems like quarantine has triggered more sentimental longing for the past, and the creative arts offer a bounty of ways to bring us together by tapping into our reservoir of happy memories. avcilar escort

In one survey on how COVID-19 has affected entertainment choices, over 50% of respondents said they felt better when watching shows and listening to music they had enjoyed during their youth.

With the holiday season approaching and COVID-19 cases skyrocketing, many of us may not be able to see our loved ones in person. But a little bit of nostalgia can help us still feel connected—with ourselves and others —during this difficult time.

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