In a German laboratory in 1901, the noted chemist Dr. Otto Röhm first made synthetic acrylic resin. His ideas were brought into American commercial production in the 1930s through the efforts of Röhm & Haas and by E. I. DuPont de Nemours (Dupont).
This particularly useful resin is used in durable forms of fiber, cast plastic sheeting such as plexiglas and Lucite as well as polymerized emulsions for making paint.
In 1931 the first acrylic product to be used in any volume was perspex in the U.K. and plexiglas in America which was used as a replacement in the aircraft of World War II.
In 1949 Leonard Bocour, founder of Bocour Artists Colours, Inc. now GOLDEN Artist Colours) in America, offered a limited range of acrylic paints marketed under the name Magna. They were sold in solution form dissolved with turpentine and could be mixed with oil paints.
Starting in the late 1940s and through the 1950s famous artists such as Moris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, and Roy Lichtenstien were associated with using these “new” paints developed by Bocour.
In 1953 the first true acrylic paints were introduced by Röhm & Haas as interior wall paints.
In 1955 Permanent Pigments developed the first commercially available water-based acrylic paint. The paint is called Liquitex, for “liquid texture.” The first water-based acrylic mediums and varnish are developed: Gloss Medium & Varnish, and Matte Medium.
In 1962 M. Grumbacher (Schminke, American) introduced new Hyplar Acrylic colours and had perfected their formula by 1966.
In 1963 Daler Rowney released their Cryla acrylic artists’ colour line and have been pioneers in developing the acrylic market in Europe.
By 1963 the wide availability of thicker consistency Liquitex tube colours enticed many prominent artists to experiment. Helen Frankethaler, Andy Warhol, and Robert Motherwell in the U.S. continued to develop their own signature styles using the new medium and very soon, U.K. artists like Bridget Riley and David Hockney brought their ideas home using acrylics.
By 1971 Winsor & Newton was the last major art supply manufacturer to develop their own line, although new brands have surfaced in the decades since.