Continuing discussions from Intro to Art. Observing Art & Ideas in our own day-to-day life and Applying in-class learning to the world around us.
Blog posts are due by midnight on Thursdays.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
The work of the abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock stands out as some of the most unique art America has yet seen. Art critics hail Pollock’s artwork as revolutionary, creative, and unique, giving it the highest praise, and valuing Pollock’s paintings in the multi-millions today. And yet to the layman, Pollock’s paintings may appear to be the random product of a depressed and disturbed alcoholic without any real talent. Only after taking a closer look at the technique, background, and styles of Jackson Pollock, can one begin to comprehend the sheer distinctiveness of Pollock’s work that makes it so impressive.
·Jackson Pollock, who later went by Jackson, was born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912, and brought up in Arizona and California. Although he later preferred New York, he still carried a “definite feeling for the West,”
·Pollock was known to be pathologically introverted, with a low tolerance for frustration. He was “a rebel by nature,” and neither tradition nor authority held any allure for him. His emotions spanned a wide range, from violent, fierce, and explosive, to romantic, sensitive, and undisciplined. Pollock often appeared to be a sweet and shy boy, but he also showed some aggressive and challenging behavior, usually depending in part on how much and if he had been drinking, a habit he developed at a young age.
·Pollock showed little talent to set him apart from others until 1947, when he developed a radical new style, his pour technique. To create these “poured paintings,” Pollock worked with an unstretched canvas spread across the floor or against a wall, rather than painting on the traditional easel. Instead of a paintbrush, Pollock worked with sticks, trowels, and knives, dripping and flinging diluted commercial paint across the canvas.
·Pollock’s poured paintings reflected the concept of allover composition, treating every square inch of canvas with equal prominence, so that there would be no center of attention or subject in the painting. This idea is central to most of Pollock’s best-known artworks.
·The style and technique of creating these paintings must have felt liberating. Without a particular figure to put on the canvas, Pollock was free to let the picture take form without any restrictions, allowing spontaneity and physical freedom in the painting process. As a result, the significance of Pollock’s art comes more from the action or the progression of painting, rather than the contemplation over the work, or even the final product.
·And yet Pollock’s art was certainly not the result of thoughtless paint splattering. He would often pause his painting for hours, considering the blank canvas or the work in progress. His wife Lee Krasner commented that “his control was amazing”. Pollock emphasized this point when he said, “The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well”.
Although Pollock’s personal life could often be unstable, his paintings reflect a deep confidence. Pollock seemed to paint for no one but himself, a thought that he articulated when he claimed, “Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is”. In his paintings, Pollock expressed his own emotions and painted exactly the way he wished, ignoring the influences of popular culture, critics, or negative comments. Pollock was willing to take risks in his art, disrespecting the boundaries of technical experimentation, as he forged his own unique style. Pollock’s paintings are, deeply complex, and fascinating. Many of them are beautiful. The sheer size of them can be breathtaking. But what makes Pollock’s work so significant is that he created a set of paintings that cannot be duplicated or imitated. They were revolutionary at the time Pollock made them, but they are still just as radical and unique today. Jackson Pollock put much effort and consideration into his paintings, so that every stream of paint was laid on the canvas with purpose, a reasoning that perhaps only he understood. This is what makes Pollock’s paintings so priceless today.