Abstract Expressionism

Works by German Expressionists had a strong influence on Frieder Burda’s childhood and form one main plank of the Collection. A sojourn in America in the 1970s, on the other hand, awakened his interest in the abstract Expressionists Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still, who form another central plank of the Collection. In the New York of the mid 1940s and early 1950s, the young Americans developed new picture concepts, linked initially to European traditions: The aim was to involve the beholder in what is happening within the picture by means of emotional - and not intellectual or narrative – participation.

To achieve this, the content of the picture had to be abstract and the formats had to develop into huge dimensions. Akin to the Expressionism of Classical Modernism, American post-war Abstract Expressionism also sought to abandon painting traditions so as to unleash hitherto unknown freedom of expression in painting. With their gestural and colour chromatic abstractions, Abstract Expressionists not only opened up a new chapter in abstract painting but also created a genuinely American art tradition.

Frieder Burda’s fascination for American artists continued in subsequent years and was intensified through his purchase of works by artists such as Andy Warhol, John Chamberlain, Robert Rauschenberg, William N. Copley, Malcolm Morley, Alex Katz and Richard Estes.