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"My favorite american artist" Mariana Dollahan *
[ POP ART ] --> Key Artist : : Jackson Pollock (1912 – 1956)
Why Jackson ? Because he is a key artist who helped shape the sensibility of Contemporary Art during the Post War Era. In the twenty years between his arrival in New York City to study art and his premature death, Jackson Pollock emerged as the most original painter in America --famous for his unprecedented physical involvement with the act of painting.
His friend and patron, the artist Alfonso Ossorio, described Pollock's artistic journey this way: "Here I saw a man who had both broken all the traditions of the past and unified them, who had gone beyond cubism, beyond Picasso and surrealism, beyond everything that had happened in art....his work expressed both action and contemplation."
Even though Jackson Pollock is not strictly Pop Art, the Pop Art movement owes much to his work. His post-student works represent a surprising and radical shift in his artistic direction. The free expression of this early works announce a clear step forward Abstraction. In many ways, Pollock can be considered a Proto or Pre-pop artist, and the effects of his work can be very startling.
Jackson Pollock is one of the best-known Abstract Expressionists. He was born in Cody , Wyoming , in 1912, but in 1930 moved to New York to study under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League. His focus was on the gesture. Pollock's work can also be classified as "drip painting" or "action painting". He worked in the late 1940s-50s and many people are familiar with videos and photographs of him dripping paint onto large canvases. He made many innovations in the movement that influenced others.
In the late 1940s Pollock was among a group of young, mostly New York painters who became known as abstract expressionists. They worked in a variety of styles, but generally shared a commitment to creating large-scale, abstract works, an interest in Jungian psychological theories of the collective unconscious and primitive mythology, and a belief that expressiveness was achieved, in part, through the physical process of painting.
Projecting the imprint of philosophy, art history, and the human experience into visual form, these artists incorporated both chance and control while painting with a physical immediacy and gesture. During the early 1950s two somewhat divergent stylistic tendencies emerged within this movement: chromatic abstraction, as seen in the coloristic paintings of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, and gestural abstraction or action painting, as exemplified by the energetically brushed works of Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, and the poured paintings of Jackson Pollock.
The term "action painting" was created by art critic Harold Rosenberg in 1951. It is used to describe paintings whose surfaces imply a sense of activity, and was created by brushing, dripping or splattering paint quickly and impulsively.
Jackson Pollock would walk across the surface of a canvas, and he dripped paint in accordance to his impulses and unconscious thoughts. The element of accident is an important composition in his paintings. His work is non-representational, as it doesn't have clear subject matter, just paint itself and the focus on depth, texture, energy and process.
His work is barely contained in his massive canvases. The surfaces of his pieces are unified and un-sectioned. His technique of overlapping paint creates a dynamic "web" that creates infinite depth.
Though an Italian writer criticized Pollock's work as "chaos--absolute lack of harmony-- complete lack of structural organization-- total absence of technique, however rudimentary-- once again, chaos...," canvases such as Lavender Mist broke the boundaries of art as people knew it at mid-century.
Pollock's daring abstract work legitimized the convergence and mastery of chance, intuition, and control. Layered skeins of paint generate beauty and order out of seemingly random gestures.
Total physical involvement of the artist defines this "action painting." Pollock spread canvas on the floor in his barn studio, or on the ground outside, and then splashed, dripped, and poured color straight from cans of commercial house paint. It was essential, he said, to "walk around it, work from all four sides, and be in the painting, similar to the Indian sand painters of the West."
[Pollock and Psychoanalysis]
It helps to understand Pollock's work to know that he was in psychoanalysis at the time of his paintings, and he believed in the unconscious, accidents and spontaneity when creating art. At 26 Pollock suffered a breakdown caused in part by creative blocks and alcoholic binges. Sessions with a Jungian psychoanalyst made him aware that emotions had become the central challenge in his life and work.
He had his first solo show at The Art of This Century Gallery in New York , in 1943. Two years later he married Lee Krasner, and lived in East Hampton , New York . Even though his work has been exhibited around the world, Pollock never traveled outside the United States . He died tragically in a car accident in 1956.
[Summary – "There is no accident"]
Each physical "performance" was a unique, spontaneous, and unrepeatable event, but the final product was always subject to artistic will. I can control the flow of the paint," Pollock contended. "There is no accident."
It seems to me, Pollock observed, "that the modern painter cannot express his age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture. Each age finds its own technique." It was Pollock's legacy to have developed a style that reflected the aesthetic concerns of his time, yet retained a high level of individuality. His art is instantly recognizable and inimitable. By focusing our attention on the very act of painting, he allowed us to witness the challenge, the trauma, and the eventual triumph of his creative process.