NUMBER 17A, JACKSON POLLOCK, 1948

This will be one of the few exceptions we will make to our “rule” of speaking about only works of art from the ’50s to today. In fact, this painting is from 1948, but it is fundamental for the development of contemporary art. Usually also who dislikes contemporary art loves Pollock!

This is because Pollock’s art is very aesthetically pleasing (speaking about this, it’s not true that contemporary art is always ugly! Check out our Instagram to see our #beautifulsunday column, in which we show stunning works of art every weekend!). Pollock is the most famous artist of the so-called american expressionism.

The paintings of Jackson Pollock are not the “real” work of art: they are the final result of his perfomance with the canvases. In other words, the real work of art is how he makes the painting and not the painting itself (that is very beautiful though). In fact, the real novelty of all his production is his approach to the canvas, literally walking on it rather then staying in front of hit. It’s a total commitment to the work, he becomes one with the work. He attacks the canvas, he goes beyond its limits. In some works it is even possible to see his footprints, that testify his presence.

The people who saw him working on his paintings said that he was like dancing around the canvas, as if he was participating in a weird mystic ritual. He completely forgot the presence of others in the room, and was totally committed to the work until he felt it was finished. If you know this, it is easy to feel the action, the power and the movement of these works.

In this case the painting has no title: it is simply numbered. That’s because at one point Pollock chose to leave the interpretation of his works completely to the viewers, giving them nor a hint. This gives total freedom to the viewers, who can see whatever they feel in his paintings.

#funfact: we chose this particular painting because it was sold at a record price: $200,000,000!

– M.C.

Bibliography and further readings:

LANCHNER Carolyne, Jackson Pollock (MoMA Artist Series), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2017

ANFAM David, Jackson Pollock’s Mural: Energy Made Visible, Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2015 

NAIFEH Steven, WHITE SMITH Gregory, Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, Crown Pub, 1990

 

 

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