Action Painting, also called “gesture abstraction” employs the physical act of painting as an essential element of the work itself. It is a dynamic and spontaneous process in which the artist may spill, drip, smear, throw, or otherwise apply paint to the canvas or surface in a vigorous manner. Through the bold gestures, the artist’s expression is uninhibited by traditional artistic or societal standards.

Action painting is often associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement, as it was popularized by painters such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning in the 1940s and 1950s. However, the techniques employed in action painting can be traced back to earlier movements, such as Cubism and Futurism.

While action painting is often considered to be a predominantly American phenomenon, European artists such as Jean Dubuffet and Yves Klein also made significant contributions to the development of this style.