The history of Acrylic Paint – When was acrylic paint invented?
The history of acrylic paint - When was acrylic paint invented
Art History

The history of Acrylic Paint

When was acrylic paint invented?

The history of acrylic paint doesn’t go back in the 10th or 11th-century like many suppose, but way earlier. If you wonder when was acrylic paint invented, you should know it was invented in 1920.

However, acrylic paint was not used for painting, as anyone would assume, but for painting the walls of buildings. The acrylic paint has a great resistance to bad weather, UV rays and it doesn’t wear down easily.

Despite these great advantages, the history of acrylic paint only began in 1940, in the United States of America. During that time you could buy acrylic colors for paintings and artworks. But the painters soon understood the possibilities that the acrylic paint would bring and they adopt it in their masterpieces.


Jackson Pollock - The history of Acrylic paint
Jackson Pollock – The history of Acrylic paint

Many impressionist painters began using acrylic paint, Morris Louis, Jackson Pollock, Al Held or Frank Stella. The acrylic colors opened up doors to new possibilities in art. They could be splashed, sprayed or painted with a roller. Notable artworks for the history of acrylic paint are the paintings series of Jackson Pollack, “Drip paintings”.


In the 1960s, more artists were using and exploring the advantages of acrylic paint. Painters like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol used them to create the well-known “Pop art” style.

Later, in the ’70s, Chuck Close and Richard Estes used them to paint in photorealism style, while Horst Antes and Keith Haring used them for figurative art.

Because it was a young painting technique it had to fight a lot to get recognition in the art arena. Only in 1985, acrylic paint was considered officially a part of the artistic scene.

The properties of acrylic paint

  • Acrylic paint can be water diluted
  • They are not soluble in water
  • Once the paint dries, it’s no longer soluble
  • It has a high resistance in time
  • The colors are well preserved
  • Have UV ray resistance properties
  • The colors are vibrant and pigmentated
  • Acrylic paint has no smell
  • The price is relatively cheap
  • They dry quickly
  • Acrylic paint can be used on large surfaces
  • This paint allows layering without creating cracks
  • When they are diluted with enough water, they have a watercolor effect
  • Using undiluted can create an impasto effect
  • You can use acrylic paint layers under oil
  • Acrylic paint can be used on any degreased solid surface: paper, canvas, cardboard, wood, ceramic, metal, plastic, leather, rock, glass or polystyrene.
  • It’s suitable for beginners

Although the history of acrylic paint is relatively young, this artistic medium earned its place on the art scene. We are grateful because of the invention of acrylic paint we can enjoy wonderful artworks.