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Question Is Jackson Pollack’s work considered art?

Jackson Pollack (11-156) was one of the most famous American painters and one of the leading painters in the Abstract Expressionist movement (post World War II). Rather than painting concrete things like trees, people and mountains, he painted ideas like war, seasons, emotions and other abstract ideas. Pollack was also unique in his style of painting.

Instead of painting in the traditional style with a canvas on an easel and sitting at a chair, Pollack painted with the canvas on the floor. He would walk around the canvas while pouring and dripping paint out of a bucket onto the canvas; Pollack “painted” with sticks, trowels, or knives instead of brushes. His style of painting became known as Action painting.

Moreover, Pollack’s “all-over style of painting”, avoids any points of emphasis or identifiable parts within the whole canvas and therefore abandons the traditional idea of composition in terms of relations among parts. The design of his painting has no relation to the shape or size of the canvas � indeed the finished work, the canvas, was sometimes docked or trimmed to suit the image.

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In light this unorthodox approach to painting, Pollack encountered much criticism. Many people could not fathom what they referred to as “drips and spatters” being called art. Still many others, who saw Pollack’s paintings commented, That is not art. Anyone can just throw paint on a canvas like that.

In response to his critics (and what I have learned so far in Art 101), Pollack’s paintings answered a resounding “yes” to the question, “Is this art”? Pollack’s paintings emphasized the use of line and color to capture emotions. In essence, Pollack’s work embodies the concept that art captures/invokes/represents emotion.



Movie scenes (addressing the question, “What is art”?

Scene There are two scenes that strike me from this movie. One in which Lee Krasner (at this point shes Pollacks girlfriend) comes to his studio and tries to decipher what hes doing. She rattles off art lingo like its going out of style. She asks what it is that hes trying to say. What styles is he incorporating? Whats the source of inspiration? He says, Im just painting. That right there is awesome. Sometimes there doesnt need to be purpose or intentions in art. Just the act of doing it is enjoyable for him. Not everything has to be a statement. I like that.

Question Is Pollack’s work considered art? My two mind sets

As far as Jackson Pollacks artwork is concerned, I am of two minds. There are moments when I can look at the dripworks and see a depth and beauty to it. I see angels in pain and people walking against the wind. I see everyday objects as well as devices that can only live in the imagination. His paintings are like looking at clouds and finding meaning where none was intended. Everything I see, no doubt, are visions - the likes of which Pollack probably never considered. Or rather, theyre not the same as what he saw when he painted them.

On the other hand, there are times when I look at Pollacks work (or abstract art, in general) and think that his drips and drizzles and spills and splatters are not art. A child could do it. Theres no skill or purpose there. It takes much more talent to render the human form or paint real-life scenes than it does to fling and plop some True Value paint onto a canvas. I try not to think this way, because Im learning.

Im learning that I like being of the former mindset. I want to see the artwork. I want to know that theres an image hiding among the splashes, if I can just find it; that Pollack created a window through which I can see anything my mind can create. One has to admit, theres something borderline-genius in accomplishing such a thing. Its almost a magic-mirror of sorts.

Pollack, like many visual artists, seems to put his heart on the table while handing you a cleaver; but he categorically refuses to be apologetic or to offer explanation for his work. He shoves something in front of your eyes and challenges you. Either you can walk away or stand firm and consider the challenge. Its up to you.

Quote “A man is miserable but he is given a gift. The gift lifts his misery while he employs it. It brings joy to himself and others. It creates space he can hide in, space he can breath in, space he can escape to. He needs that space, and given his demons, painting is the only way he can find it.”



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