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Acrylic paintings are the pictures that are created by means of synthetic paints which are based on acrylic resin, pigments and water. Drawing with polymers is not deteriorated by moisture or sunlight, it does not require a special surface and retains the colour brightness for decades. Acrylic paint is non-toxic, odourless, it dries quickly, forms a smooth shiny film, it does not crack or peel off. Artists prefer synthetic paints for amazingly bright and rich colours, ease of its application and harmlessness of the material for the health of the artist. Acrylic paint is suitable not only for creating paintings, but also for design, decorative and applied, and finishing work. Glossy polymer paints are widespread among professionals and amateurs.
Acrylic resin was obtained chemically in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Acrylic paints appeared on the market in 1949 in the USA, and they became the newest material in the visual arts. Bright works by pop artists burst into American painting. In the 1960s, David Hockney’s acrylic paintings conquered Great Britain, and in the 1970s, photorealist artists painted mesmerizing large-scale portraits and street scenes with synthetic paints. At the end of the 20th century, artists used acrylics in all painting genres and styles. Vivid paintings pushed aside noble oil painting, they were placed in museum halls, private residences, on the walls of city buildings and on the pages of auction houses catalogues.
Synthetic paints do not limit artists in the choice of media: the masterpieces of acrylic painting are created on canvas, cardboard, paper, wood. Colours always delight the eye with their vividness, brightness and saturation. An artist selects the type of paint in accordance with the painting technique, aesthetics and his work genre. A heavy and viscous polymer sticks to the tip of the instrument, creates a raised, convex image, it is popular among still life painters. Acrylic gel adds lightness and transparency to the picture, it is indispensable in landscape painting. Shiny translucent paints with a metallic effect cover the painted area, so they are popular with fantasy creators. Artists apply paint with a brush or a spatula; spray gun is used for acrylic paint diluted with water. The technique requires a painter to move confidently and quickly, as the polymer dries instantly.
American artist Justin Geffrey became the star of the impasto technique or acrylic sculpting: with generous multi-layer strokes, he created a three-dimensional composition on a flat surface. Plasticity and ease of use allowed self-taught artists to reveal their talent and create amazing paintings using this material.
The history of acrylic painting began quite recently. In 1901, the German chemist and pharmacist Otto Röhm defended his thesis on “Polymerization of acrylic acid”. Later he founded the famous chemical company, Röhm und Haas, which in 1934, together with BASF, patented acrylic resin dispersion. By 1949, American handcrafted paint sellers Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden had invented white spirit-based acrylic paint, which marketed under the brand name Magna in the 1950s. Soon, their company, Golden, invented a method for producing water-based acrylic paint, which they called Aquatec. Another brand of acrylic paints, Liquitex, was produced in Cincinnati by Henry Levinson’s Permanent Pigments Co. In Europe, acrylics for artists began to be produced in 1963 under the Cryla trademark. Paints based on acrylic emulsion are opaque, bright, elastic, textured. They dry very quickly; some artist consider it an advantage, but for some it is a disadvantage. Acrylic paints are easy to mix, dilute with water, and, which is important for many, they have almost no smell. After drying, the surface of acrylic paintings polymerizes in air and acquires a beautiful shine. There are also matte paints. The pastiness of acrylic paints allows the artist to realize all his/her ideas. They can be used with a brush or a palette knife, squeezed directly from tubes, poured onto a canvas, sprayed with various tools. Perhaps the only drawback of acrylic is the darkening of the colours after some time of drying. Experienced artists solve this acrylic paint problem experimentally. Acrylic paints quickly gained popularity among contemporary artists. Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and David Hockney, Barnett Newman and Kenneth Noland loved to work in acrylics. Acrylic paint can be applied on almost any surface. It perfectly adheres to the base, which opens up a wide field for creativity. Acrylic paints are widely used in various types of hobbies and handicrafts, such as making models of trains, airplanes, and military miniatures. The pasty structure of acrylic paints allows to mix them with various fillers, create three-dimensional relief paintings, such as those made by the contemporary artist Justin Gaffrey. Whereas the works by William Henrits are amazing in their airiness and transparency. Frenchman Henri Lamy creates his paintings by dripping paint onto canvas with a knife. Each artist applies acrylic paints as he/she wishes, which is great. Famous artists who worked in acrylic paints: Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Jackson Pollock, Diego Rivera, Justin Gaffrey, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Lancaster, William Henrits, Hans Rudolf Giger, Henri Lamy. Orange, Red, Yellow. Mark Rothko, 1961 Marilyn Diptych. Andy Warhol, 1962 Portrait of an Artist. David Hockney, 1972 Li I, Hans Rudolf Giger, 1974