3.2 Research Point – Pollock

Pollock said, “When I am in my painting, I am not aware of what I am doing”. He tried to achieve a creative state in which his marks were a response to his internal promptings rather than an external search for an aesthetic, particularly a commercial aesthetic. He walked around the support on the floor, dripping, splashing, and pouring his paint. Later, he would ask his wife, the artist Lee Krastner, “Does it work?” (Acton, 2004). This is not to say that his drips and splashes of paint were not considered; clearly, watching this video, they were carefully considered but not in the sense that he was thinking, “Does this make a pleasing image?”. He was searching for some sort of internal balance, rhythm and cohesion.

Pollock was trying to connect to his subconscious through this gestural process, “The source of the painting is the unconscious” (Harrison and Wood, 2002) but he also wanted it to be a spiritual experience for viewer. Size mattered. The canvas (or other support) should be so big that the viewer becomes lost in it and its edges disappear. It was not practical to work at an easel, both because of the size and because of the technique. Did the size elicit the technique or did the technique dictate the size? “On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting…literally be in the painting.” (Harrison and Wood, 2002).

Greenberg, who championed Pollock, said that Pollock’s gestural approach created work “full of energy and content” (Harrison and Wood, 2002). The energy and physicality of the artist’s process is preserved; the painting becomes performance recorded in paint. In his essay ‘Anti-Form’, Morris says of Pollock and Morris Louis, who was heavily influenced by him, that this art takes process and “holds on to it as part of the end form of the work.” (Archer, 2015). It is this sense of recorded, captured energy which made Pollock’s work so radical at the time and influential since.

“I approach painting in the same sense as one approaches drawing, that is it’s direct….the more immediate, the more direct – the greater the possibilities of making …. a statement” Jackson Pollock, (Harrison and Wood, 2002).


Acton, M. (2004) Learning to look at modern art. New York: Routledge.
Archer, M. (2015) Art since 1960. United Kingdom: Thames & Hudson.
Harrison, C. and Wood, P.J. (eds.) (2002) Art in theory, 1900-2000: An anthology of changing ideas. 2nd edn. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

One thought on “3.2 Research Point – Pollock

  1. Pingback: Exhibition – Abstract Expressionists | investigatingdrawing

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