Sunday, October 3, 2010

portrait of the artist: jackson pollock

Last week I blog-curated a little show for Clyfford Still, a relatively unknown Abstract Expressionist painter. This week I wanted to feature an artist who is probably instantly recognizable to most people, regardless of whether they have any interest in art. Mr. Jackson Pollock is one of my long-time favorites. As I mentioned before, I like my painters unpretentious and their work representative of raw emotion, and Pollock was the King of Spontaneous Creation.

(Full Fathom Five DETAIL, 1949)

(Convergence, 1952)

(Painting, 1948)

(Blue Poles, 1952)

(Lavendar Mist, 1950)

(Eyes in the Heat, 1946)

(Full Fathom Five, 1947)

Although most of us are familiar with Pollock's 'drip and splash' style, I also want to highlight here his early work (Picasso, anyone?), which I think is pretty brilliant in its own right:

(The Moon Woman, 1942)

(She-Wolf, 1943)

(The Key, 1946)

Who knows what would have happened if he hadn't been a raging alcoholic his whole life? Would the famed "Jack the Dripper" ever have emerged? Was his alcoholism the chicken or the egg in the inspiration for his art? It's quite possible that his drinking contributed a great deal to his famous style--his constant intoxication could have loosened the brush in his hands, banishing figure and form forever--but it's also possible that there was something within him (which drove him to the bottle) that also inspired the freedom to paint in this way. I wonder what would have happened if he hadn't been killed at the height of his career (in a tragic car accident--don't drive drunk!). His work could have become increasingly agitated, or have taken an entirely new direction and become softer, or perhaps less colorful. I guess we'll never know. When an artist's inner life is so powerfully present in his work, the potential energy left behind after his death creates a gaping void.

Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.
Jackson Pollock


  1. I love abstract art and how it's non-representational and subjective. Pollock was of course great at what he did, and these paintings testify to that. I was going to say that the last three photos are reminiscent of Picasso, then I read your words. So true!