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