American painter Jackson Pollock is widely known years after his death. But what made his work so captivating?
Jackson Pollock became famous for his “drip technique” or “action painting” style, wherein the artist pours paint over the canvas, creating abstract art from gestural movements. This made him a figure in the abstract expressionist movement, which focuses on viewing art by the process endured to create it rather than by the final product.
Find out more below about Pollock’s avant-garde approach to art.
It is a style of action painting, wherein the artist uses their weight to randomly drip, splash, and smudge paint onto the canvas.
The purpose of the technique is to exhibit the artist’s creative process while making the painting rather than the visual technicalities of the artwork itself.
Because of this, Pollock is classified as an expressionist painter, as his work is focused on expressing his feelings on the canvas.
Pollock popularized the drip technique during his artistic career. He created artwork from 1936-1954, becoming well-known in the later years of his career.
Pollock’s Famous Artwork
By 1947, the drip technique became Pollock’s favored approach, having used it for over 10 years.
Pollock preferred not to explain his work, because he thought this would ruin their beauty. He liked to leave his art up to the viewer’s interpretation.
She-Wolf was Pollock’s first painting to be exhibited in a museum. This was created several years before his drip technique emerged, but the abstract nature of the piece foreshadows his future work.
Of the painting, he said in 1944, “Any attempt on my part to say something about it, to attempt explanation of the inexplicable, could only destroy it.”
Number 1 (Lavender Mist) was one of Pollock’s first pieces in which he fully incorporated the drip technique.
In this painting, he chronicles his emotions using energized hand movements, throwing paint around the canvas in layers of haphazard drips.
On The Hundreds blog, the painting was described as exemplifying “gestural abstraction, in which paint was poured or applied with extreme physicality to reflect the artist’s inner mind.”
Another famous piece of his is Convergence, which is a representation of the tumultuous period during the Cold War.
Pollock used oil paint as a medium, and created uncoordinated lines and shapes, combined with a dark, warm color palette.
The avant-garde nature of the painting is meant to amplify freedom of speech and expression during a depressing time in American history.
The Influence of Pollock
Pollock was quoted saying, “I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them.”
His artwork became infamous among many critics and was widely misunderstood for its abstract nature.
Critics called his paintings “chaotic” and “senseless”, and did not like his avant-garde approach.
His admirers, however, adored his paintings, seeing them as original and fascinating.
Several contemporary artists are influenced by his creative process and his gestural approach to painting.
His painting One: Number 31, 1950, was ranked the eighth most influential pieces of modern art in 2004.
His work has sold for millions of dollars, some upwards of $495 million. When his work Blue Poles/Number 11, 1952 was purchased, it was the highest price paid for modern art at the time ($1.3 million).
Being a prime innovator in abstract expressionism, Pollock became the representation of “American individualism”, being one of the most influential painters till date.