"American Aesthetic Movement" is the name given to a series of art exhibitions that took place between the years of 1961 and 1963. These were the works of contemporary artists who lived and worked in and around New York City at that time. The events were organized by the now-famous group called the Institute of Contemporary Art. Among these artists were artist Jasper Johns, artist Frank Stella, and artist Morris Louis. The exhibits were done largely in response to the "Hegelian" School of Modern Art movement which had gained popularity among American artists prior to the inception of the American aesthetic movement itself. In fact, many of the artists and art collectors associated with this art form came from the Institute of Contemporary Art and were known as "Forever radicals."
At the beginnings of the American aesthetic movement, there was the New York art scene where such names as Andy Warhol and gelatin paint had been born. There were also artisans such as the herter brothers who made paper flowers, decorative arts, and ceramics. They were the precursors of the pop art style that we know today. John Cage, the famous American contemporary artist, learned to paint in a French classroom while he was studying at the University of Paris.
After World War II, the world changed drastically for the American artistic community. Paintings and prints were no longer limited to the margins of brocades and gowns at museums. The art world was forever changing and so were the shapes and forms that people took. The major artistic movements of the early 1960s included pop, street arts, jazz, folk, and bohemian. Art museums had become places where America's creative artists came together to exhibit their art, and in many cases, each artist would have their own studio or home-based business so they could continue to paint independently.
America's visual culture was forever transforming. From the 1950s through the end of the 1960s, the American aesthetic movement took on new forms and gave birth to new artists like Claxton, de Kooning, Morris Louis, Frank Stella, Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, and others. Some of the most popular decorative arts that were introduced during this period of American artistry included paintings, collages, landscapes, prints, and silver aesthetic prints. In addition to the typical subjects of animals, plants, and landscape, pieces from this time period also included motifs that came from nature, American Indian culture, jewelry, architecture, pop art, fashion, and even pop icons.
Two major artistic movements that emerged in the 1960s were the American Kennel Club and the American Preppy Style. The Kennel Club was formed by Kennel Criers who focused on breeding dogs according to their aesthetic sense in an effort to form a standard for the type of dog that Americans would want to walk or ride. The American Preppy style was formed by artists such as Andy Warhol who used pin up girls and other cute motifs to highlight the "cool American" feeling that he was trying to achieve.
These two artistic breakthroughs transformed American decorative arts into the modern Gothic style that we have come to know and love. The primary difference between the American Kennel Club aesthetic and the gothic aesthetic is that goths focus on color schemes and the darker the better. While the Kennel Club generally tries to keep their style minimalistic, goths make their themes more ornate with deep color schemes and unique figurines. These styles can vary widely and can even overlap significantly between different aesthetic groups. The act of mixing and matching and creating something new while staying within the same artistic realm has become synonymous with the Gothic style.