Well, I guess I had to get back here sooner or later. Interestingly, however, I think this approach to finding his work at least helps me understand it to a degree. I think I am also starting to understand why I don’t “get it.” My tutor described Pollock as “a painter’s painter”, and I have never really had a serious attempt at painting. This (to my mind) limits my ability to appreciate a body of work that is essentially about the action of making a painting in different ways.
It seems that much of his body of work is, in effect, an exploration of control over fluid paints. Sometime enamels, sometimes artist paints. Sometimes with extra solvent to make more of a stain. He also experiments with texture in paint, mixing things such as sand and objects into the paint in various ways. The work is about embracing the materials and using that to make the painting. A lot of this comes into the region of Art as materials study much more than the creation of a subject within the paintings. Thus making wet-on-wet and Oil-on-water effects are important, as is the different ways that it is possible to apply the paint. To this is added a rhythmic application of the paint. This is both in terms of the rhythm of the paint distribution and listening to rhythmic music whilst painting.
I guess I need to spend time painting to “get it”.
Notes from the images considered:
She Wolf (1943)
– Wolf is secondary.
– About the texture in paint, and figure-ground relation.
– Grey “ground” was atually put on quite late.
– Various “psychological” influences
Full Fathom Five (1947)
– Early drip example, but started on the easel
– Finish in black on the floor
– Interesting objects encased in the painting.
– Done to complicate the surface
– Exploration of the properties of paint
– What can you do with paint?
One Number 31 (1950)
– Nowhere for the eye to rest
– Action painting
– The canvas is an areas in which to act
– Density of activity, which is a record of how the painting was made
Echo Number 25 (1951)
– Change of approach
– Monochrome painting. Same can of paint.
– Flicking of paint
– Eye balls and eyelashes
– Figure coming back in
– Pollock finding himself again after Greenburg’s influence
– Starting with figure and working from it
– WHat do you do next after a major body of work?
Easter and the Totem (1953)
– Very different approach again
– Back to easel and brush
– Dominant black colour
– Primitive, figurative
– More traditional french colours, mixed on a palette
White Light (1954)
– One of the final paintings, as in 1955 he didn’t paint and he died 1956 in a drunken crash
– Back to pure abstraction
– Artist lost after high point of 1950
– Throwing everything at the canvas
– Brushed paint, Palette knife, Tubed paint, Artist oil paint again, back to the floor and alkyd enamel and drips
– Power flows from his frustration, and resulting in chaos
– Emotionally strong painting