Abstract expressionism is an American post-World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence thus putting New York City at the center of the art world, a role formerly filled by Paris. The term "Abstract expressionism" was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates.

Many of Bernard Clendnin's paintings seem to incorporate an abstract quality which then relies on the viewer to put his or her own interpretation upon the work. For example: the abstract style of Clendenin's Ships Sail in the Distance is reminiscent of Richard Diebenkorn's Ocean Park No. 66, 1973 Oil on Canvas, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, Gift of Seymour H. Knox.

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