Modern Art - Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock became a worldwide symbol of the new American painting after World War II. The paintings done by Pollock in the mid-1940s were coarse, heavy, and filled with a nervous brutal energy all their own. By 1947, the artist began to experiment with all-over painting, a labyrinthine network of lines, splatters and paint drips from which emerged the great "poured" paintings of the next few years. These paintings, generally executed on a large canvas laid out on the floor, are the works most popularly associated with so-called Action Painting.

The furious and seemingly haphazard scattering of the paint was not a completely uncontrolled, intuitive act. There is no question that, in the paintings of Pollock and many of the other Abstract Expressionists, the element of intuition, or the accidental, plays a large and deliberate part. Honoring the intuitive aspect of art was one of the principal contributions of Abstract Expressionism.

Pollock's drip paintings contributed certain elements that changed the course of modern painting. All-over painting, seemingly without beginning or end, extended visually beyond even the limits of the canvas. Pollock's paintings introduced the concept that the painting is an environment, surrounding the viewer, and not separated from him. The feeling of participating in the painting is heightened by the ambiguity of the picture space. The moving lines and colors surge back and forth, all within a limited depth.

Jackson Pollock had no direct stylistic followers, but his work directly affected the course of experimental painting that followed him. During the last few years of Pollock's life, he explored the problems of the figure and even returned to traditional brush painting. His later paintings never received the critical acclaim of his drip paintings, but some of them suggested a new phase in the artist's creative career, which was terminated by the artist's death in an automobile accident in 1956.

"Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn't have any beginning or any end. He didn't mean it as a compliment, but it was. It was a fine compliment." -- Jackson Pollock