The role of an artist is to reinvent the world; through sculpture, painting, and any other artistically expressionistic manner. Jackson Pollock’s contribution to the artistic world and to art history is enveloped with is many great paintings, and his revolutionary style of painting. The following paper will examine Jackson Pollock’s role as an artist, in which ways he has contributed to art, and finally an analysis of several of Pollock’s work will be incorporated into the body of this essay.
The time period in which Pollock worked was America in the abstract expressionism era of painting (roughly 1940-1950). Abstract expressionism for Pollock emerged as a ‘drip and splash’ style of painting in which he would bend over a painting and randomly allow the paint to fall to the canvas thus creating a sporadic and mesmerizing canvas.
Jackson would not use traditional artistic painter’s brushes but instead he used other found objects around him such as sticks, knives or even towels in order to create a different texture on the canvas (this is reminiscent of Van Gogh using the different side of the brush, instead of the bristles he would use the stub thus creating in ‘Starry Night’ a more fluid feel to the canvas and an almost three-dimensional plane with the uplifted paint).
Along with the use of foreign objects as paint applicators, Jackson would also incorporate found objects around him (much like Picasso’s found art pieces) and the texture of a lot of his abstract expressionistic art would have elements of glass, or even sand in the art’s design.
It was in this manner that Jackson hoped to tap into his unconscious artistic side; much like the writings of Virginia Woolf who incorporated a fluid narrative style of the unconscious mind, Pollock would work as if possessed by something, allowing his unconscious mind to have control of his actions and thereby resulting in a surrealist imagination come to fruition (WebMuseum paragraph 1-2). Pollock painted as if his paintings had unrelated parts and therefore more unconscious parts.
This abandonment of the traditional led to the revolutionary art style of abstract expressionism which lead to other periods of radical art such as avant-guarde and post-modern. The elements of abstract expressionism can best be seen in Pollock’s Male and Female (1942) found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In this painting the viewer can plainly see no traditional forms of the male and female body as would be expected from the title but rather various seemingly unconnected forms with vibrant colors. Thus, the viewer comes to realize that each shape and color and line is a symbol of something else which Pollock wished to convey.
In this painting the viewer sees the beginning of Pollock’s revolutionary style. Jackson’s un-emphasis on painting, on any particular focal point was his tour-de-force in the artistic world with such works as The She-Wolf (1943) and Eyes in the Heat (1946). (WebMuseum paragraph 5-6). The true art of Pollock’s painting is found in its originality. No other artist had dreamed the possibility of non-linear painting, or no focal point and by using the unconscious mind to create a vision such as he had done.
This non-linear art was provoked by the times in which Pollock painted where the ruling class’ objective was controlling and did not allow for such experimental work (as has been noted Times Magazine had even referred to Pollock as ‘Jack the Dripper’ thereby giving him no credit as an artist), as Jaffee states, “A generation of social historians of art, examining closely the relationship between Abstract Expressionism and power, has concluded that the movement owed its success to its usefulness to the ideological interests of then ruling class. ” (Jaffee paragraph 1).
It was in technique that Pollock emphasized his artistic expression. One of Pollock’s pivotal painting pieces is Blue Poles Number II. In this painting the viewer can see no distinguishing characters of form, line, or shape. The randomness and chaotic nature of the canvas is tantamount to the befuddlement of fate, war, luck or any other human or worldly expression in which random acts control the design, as is such in Pollock’s painting. The canvas is literally saturated with paint, with half started lines, blots of paint and Jackson’s famous drip method.
If the unconscious mind is a place of random thoughts with no clear pattern then Pollock’s work is a true mimesis of that side of human nature. Pollock’s paintings were a clear break from traditional forms of artistic thought, believe and motifs. His paintings were revolutionary because they gave permission for artists to think outside of their predestined schools of thought, but what makes Pollock’s work so extraordinary was he was the first to accomplish it with as much fervor, “Nothing in art since then, not Pop or Minimalism or anything else, is as radical and audacious.
It doesn’t matter that other artists dripped paint before Pollock; they didn’t make of it what he did. To play C-E-G on a piano is not to compose a Mozart sonata. Pollock’s paintings remain the central story of modern art in the second half of the century, above all because they gave permission to all other artists to break the rules. ” (Kimmelman paragraph 3-4). There is no real comparison with artists who have done or do now the type of drip technique made famous by Pollock, the fact remains that he was the first to do such a technique with gusto.
On the examination of Pollock’s painting style Cotter writes, “Pollock is the dark, liberating angel at the shoulder of postwar art: his drip paintings blew traditional notions of academic skill to smithereens, and he gave abstraction an edge of danger by both confirming and undermining its credibility once and for all. Seen in this light, the very fact of his early incompetence oddly increases him. Any insight into his career has pertinence for the history of American art. And this exhibition provides insights aplenty, as it traces a slow, erratic but progressively strengthening path toward his mature work.
” (Cotter paragraph 5). This ‘liberating angel’ was the gateway for Pop art, and all other artistic movements after abstract expressionism. Some attribute Pollock’s genius to his personality; his introvert style of living, his drunkenness and failed attempts at relationships and his over-all verdant and manic behavior. Like many artists, he was problematic in social circles and aloof often times working and forgetting about time or eating so caught up in his painting he would be.
Often times such a personality attributes greatly to the type of work being created and to a point the development of artistic genius, Perhaps the most compelling empirical support for a significant relationship between the personality of an artist and his artistic style comes from a study by Ludwig (1998). He compared the lifetime rates of mental disorder among artists whose work was primarily formal (emphasizing structural, compositional, or decorative elements) with rates of mental disorder among artists whose work was primarily emotive (emphasizing self-expression).
Results were dramatic: the incidence of lifetime mental disorder among the artists in the emotive category was more than three times the incidence of mental disorder among artists in the formal category – 75% versus 22%, respectively (p < . 001).  (Abuhamdeh, & Csikszentmihalyi paragraph 3). The introversion that lead itself to Pollock’s life also lead to the avenue of having the time to dedicate to his work a type of cyclical personality instigates art which instigates being alone (a cycle many artist revel in and are cursed with). Works Cited Abuhamdeh, S. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. The Artistic Personality: A Systems Perspective.
Sternberg, Robert J. (Ed); Grigorenko, Elena L. (Ed); Singer, Jerome L. (Ed). Creativity: From Potential to Realization. Washington, DC:American Psychological Association. April 2004. Cotter, H. Art Review: Prospecting in the Jumble of Pollock’s Earliest Work. The New York Times. 21 October 1997. Jaffee, B. Jackson Pollock’s Industrial Expressionism. Art Journal. Winter 2004. Kimmelman, M. Art Review: How Even Pollock’s Failures Emphasize His Triumphs. The New York Times. 30 October 1998. WebMuseum. Jackson Pollock. Online. 17 March 2008. http://www. ibiblio. org/wm/paint/auth/pollock/Sample Essay of BuyEssay.org