Jackson Pollock was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. Abstract expressionism was developed in New York in the early 1950s and introduced new approaches and experimentation to art. Pollock defined modern art through two words, ‘freedom’ and ‘originality’. Pollock expresses his freedom by straying away from the usual painter’s tools and explores new media. Pollock explores new ideas and techniques without the fear of destroying his own images. This is shown through some of his works including: ‘Blue Poles’ 1952 oil, enamel and aluminum paint on canvas (210.4x486.8cm) and ‘Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), oil, enamel and aluminum on canvas 221 x 299.7 cm (87 x 118 in.)
Plate 2: ‘Blue Poles’ 1952
Plate 1: Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), and 1950
In Plate 1, Number 1 Lavender Mist Pollock challenged the concept of what art is but at the same time defined what modern art is. The audience was not used to an artwork like this, it was a dawn of a new age. Although some people referred to it is ‘childish; the artwork introduces new approaches and experimentation to art by expressing his freedom and originality in his artwork. Lavender Mist is able to portray a landscape through the contrasting shades as well as the differentiating colors, which in turn takes the eyes across the whole painting. Pollock uses mainly green, white, black and in some places brown to give the painting an earthy appearance, demonstrating the textual layers, which are clearly demonstrated. The main elements are use of color, texture and contrast. The use of color is effectively applied because it is very earthy, atmospheric and is contrasted with the light white and the intense black streaks. Contrast is used to balance the picture resulting in a flowing formation, creating movement within the piece. The use of texture allows the painting to have multiple layers to give a 3D appearance creating a shiny texture. Pollock achieves this through the use of impasto with thick layers of green, white, black and brown paint. The emphasis of the thick long streaks of black allows the viewers attention to be directed around the painting to the four corners of the canvas.
In this painting Pollock uses enamel paints instead of acrylic paints because when Pollock moved from easel painting to dripping or pouring paint onto a canvas he was able to get long, continuous lines which is impossible to get by applying paint to a canvas with a brush. Pollock used industrial paint with a fluid viscosity because it allowed him to get smooth and continuous lines.
Pollock was influenced by the method of walking around the artwork from the four sides and literally being in the painting is akin to the method of Indian sand painters of the West. Color Field Painters Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis influenced Pollock to painting into a raw canvas; Frank Stella who made ‘all over compositions’ major factor in the 1960s also influenced Pollock’s painting style.
The technique of the paint appliqué called ‘drip painting’ allows Pollock to apply paint from all angles and sides of the canvas, which allows him to explore the dimensions of the painting. “New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements.” Jackson Pollock. By Pollock exploring this new way of applying paint and type of paints onto the canvas, it emphasizes the freedom and originality in this artwork. Pollock’s work shows when making an artwork, that there are no boundaries and that there are always new techniques to be found. This original painting style that Pollock used is what he is famous for now, it is his legacy in modern art.
In Plate 2 Blue Poles achieves freedom and originality through composition, color, texture and lines. Pollock uses the same drip painting technique in this painting. “I continue...