“Is he the greatest living painter in the United States”?

The above question appeared in the 8 August 1949 issue of Life Magazine. Hal Foster wrote the following statement in volume two of his Art Since 1900: “In the immediate postwar years, one sign of the New York art world’s continuing status as a small village is that a mass-circulation magazine like Life should have felt the need to introduce its readers to Jackson Pollock in the first place…Ambivalent through and through, Life’s presentation of Pollock was part contemptuous (the captions under the “drip paintings” spoke of them as “drools,” the text as “doodling” and part serious. The article had to report, after all, the estimation of Pollock’s work as great by “a formidably high-brow New York critic” (Clement Greenberg) as well as its embrace by American and European avant-garde audiences, and, as an illustrated weekly, it had to picture both the artist and his work in generous, large-scale reproductions.”

The earlier, unsympathetic response by the Art community to early Jackson Pollock paintings was slowly and cautiously being refocused into more accepting and positive responses. Gallerists Peggy Guggenheim and Betty Parsons turned their gaze toward Pollock with greater and greater confidence that something serious was happening as Pollock transitioned into his unabashed abstraction phase.

Pollock had recognized, it appears now in his larger scale paintings, the process he was now using to put paint onto the canvas—loading up his brush with paint and allowing gravity to pull it off the bristles and fall onto the canvas which was now rolled out on the hard floor—could in fact express his deeper inner emotions and motives of life within the duration of his choreograph of movement above the surface of his canvas. Critic Harold Rosenberg recognized this notion of duration of the process itself as “an arena in which to act, instead of a space in which to reproduce, redraw, analyst or ‘express’ a present or imagined object. Thus the canvas was no longer the support of a picture, but an event.”

As you turn your gaze to Jackson Pollock and confront the shadow he cast upon “emerging” artists like Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Mark Tobey, and Dinh Q. Le, what are your thoughts about the reflection upon the act of painting, the process itself, and the duration of time as a significant “event”—which is the ART itself?

Jackson Pollock Article in Life, 8 August 1949

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

41 Comments

41 thoughts on ““Is he the greatest living painter in the United States”?”

  1. In all honesty, I have always regarded any physical expression of emotion as “art,” whether it be a one time performance of a play or musical, a recurring role, a photograph, a doodle, a painting, a digital piece– anything of that regard. As for this particular example of abstract work, I think “the process itself” is closest to what I appreciate as the art itself. Though the end product is what is displayed or mass produced, the action– him living and painting in the moment– was art. It’s like a private, performance art showing that happens to produce something that can be thought about later. An actor could recreate the event, a photographer could have captured the act; it’s all art within itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Art can really be anything. Each individual has a different interpretation of art. This leads to the conclusion that the time is takes to create really is an insignificant conversation to be had. Being able to express yourself cannot be put into a box with expectations and time constraints. As a viewer and an artist, I can see what took more time or less but I do not necessarily think you cannot have an extraordinary work of art in a short period of working time. The act of painting is really just the act of creating. The artist is the one that makes all the decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do not think anyone can or shall rush the work of Art. NO matter what form it is. Art takes time to process. It is all about where the artist is or how far the artist wants to go within the painting. When it comes to the process of this specific art, I find it remarkable. Its isolated, its patient, and its detailed. The fact that a person can put their minds and be creative around something at a large scale is brilliant. For that, as someone who only discusses art, I admire the act of painting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The “art” is not just about the result, in this case, a finished painting on a canvas. Art, and I would say all forms of art, are just as much about the process and the “act.” When we paint, when we leave a brush stroke, etc. there is always intention. Even when, we say “this means nothing,” well that’s your intention. The finished painting is a build up of time. Regardless of whether we are going for realism, abstract, whatever, there’s always a process.
    As artists, when we talk about our art, we talk tend to talk about the emotions, our thoughts, our “act” we went through during the process of creating it. I feel like we end up talking more about the process than finished visual result. I think art really is a combination of the process and the product.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My thoughts on the act of painting is just how vulnerable those pieces can be. Taking Pollock for example, he is exposing his emotions into his work of art and exploiting the inner mind and transferring that onto a canvas. This can go for any artist who will “act” on how they’re feeling and just create whatever their mind translates it to with the work of their hand. I find it very interesting, especially when it’s an abstract piece to determine how the artist created the way they did and what emotion they must have been going through. I would imagine the process it takes to create one of these works of art can be either really fast or at its own pace depending the emotion that is being interpreted. Though creating art really has no time boundary. The process to this kind of work can have many alternatives whether it be frenzy and chaotic or even calm and soothing at a steady pace. Though depending the amount of time you take into a piece of work can definitely be noticed when it’s sloppy and uneven or something more planned out and was given more time to construct the composition. When it comes to the “act of painting,” I feel there really isn’t constructive thinking to know how you’ll do your painting or have a layout but rather just DO it in the moment. I could be wrong though but that is what I think when it comes to the act of painting, painting in the moment and going with the flow of what you’re interpreting onto your canvas without caring too much that it should be “perfect.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For myself specifically, I had always thought that the process itself and perhaps the end result was what was considered art. I did not stop to think that the duration of time it took to make a piece can be so significant as to say that the time spent on the work is art itself. However, looking into Pollock’s case, I feel that the time spent can be considered an art so long as it was meaningful enough to the artist; making it “an arena in which to act” as Rosenberg would put it. Was the artist enduring a struggle? Embarking on a journey with a paintbrush? I feel that such circumstances can make it so that such a duration can be considered art in itself, but I feel that the territory that this concept explores is largely in the dark. Looking over this information more, I feel that overall both forms, process, and duration, can be considered as art or at least part of it so long as the circumstances are right.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. To me painting is an emotion you are trying to show to others. While some paintings/art can be easier to see the emotions in than others it still goes through a process to get it to that point. I feel this way about different mediums of art such as drawing, dancing, and singing. The process artists take to create a piece of art can be very personal to them making the overall final work of art hard to interpret. I know that a lot of times, especially when it comes to interpretive art, many artists will say that the process they go through creating their art is just as important as the art itself. Often times painters will take a long time to finish a certain painting which can impact the overall painting in how you can start off painting with a certain emotion and end with another. I personally think that paintings can not be made without emotion whether they are happy, sad, angry, etc. This is why it is important to make sure the process and the final outcome are equally important when creating something.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry, I am late on this one. Like many of the students here, I had thought about our current situation with this quarantine. It is interesting that we are hanging out more in this broader virtual “platform” like YouTube, Insta, and the blogosphere in comparison to Greenwich Village in 1955. Before I decided to look into doing more art, it was nice to meet with other local artists in drawing groups downtown or at a coffee shop. The physical conversations were heavily intertwined with both public and private digital conversations within the group of artists. Public groups are often easier to find, even if you are not living in a certain city. However, I do think there are still physical locations where the “avant-guard” are found. In our global society, I would also think this takes place in different locations. Certain events will bring groups of like-minded individuals together. It could be a place and time to discuss things on a more personal level while a broader, and less personal conversation happens on social media. The physical meetings between artists could be in any number of counties were art events are taking place.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry, I am late on this one. Like many of the students here, I had thought about our current situation with this quarantine. It is interesting that we are hanging out more in this broader virtual “platform” like YouTube, Insta, and the blogosphere in comparison to Greenwich Village in 1955. Before I decided to look into doing more art, it was nice to meet with other local artists in drawing groups downtown or at a coffee shop. The physical conversations were heavily intertwined with both public and private digital conversations within the group of artists. Public groups are often easier to find, even if you are not living in a certain city. However, I do think there are still physical locations where the “avant-guard” are found. In our global society, I would also think this takes place in different locations. Certain events will bring groups of like-minded individuals together. It could be a place and time to discuss things on a more personal level while a broader, and less personal conversation happens on social media. The physical meetings between artists could be in any number of counties were art events are taking place.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jackson Pollock is a very interesting painter because of the “choreograph of movement above the surface of the canvas” mentioned in the article. The basic process includes creating different layers, and repetitions of movement. He had documented something personal, and also broadly relatable using modern abstract art. The work sometimes reminds me of the way a ballistics engineer might use an image to document an event. This could be contrasted with the brush of a calligraphy painter, or the ink blot of a psychologist. In the large paintings I also see some of the constraints of his brush and body. You can see this process of large splashes of paint falling from higher up and diminishing as it gets closer to the surface. There are bold streaks and marks that could be “inner emotions” that were applied in the moment. In this regard, Pollock’s process is the main subject matter of all of his paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jackson Pollock is a very interesting painter because of the “choreograph of movement above the surface of the canvas” mentioned in the article. The basic process includes creating different layers, and repetitions of movement. He had documented something personal, and also broadly relatable using modern abstract art. The work sometimes reminds me of the way a ballistics engineer might use an image to document an event. This could be contrasted with the brush of a calligraphy painter, or the ink blot of a psychologist. In the large paintings I also see some of the constraints of his brush and body. You can see this process of large splashes of paint falling from higher up and diminishing as it gets closer to the surface. There are bold streaks and marks that could be “inner emotions” that were applied in the moment. I think Pollock’s process is the main subject matter of all of his paintings

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jeremy!

      I also believe that the process behind his paintings was the main subject matter, not the actual painting itself. I do enjoy looking at the types of techniques artists use in their works, and Pollock was for sure an interesting one.

      If anyone is interested, I found a video from Khan Academy that shows Pollock’s painting technique! https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/post-war-american-art/abex/v/moma-painting-technique-pollock

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The idea of the process of making art being art itself is certainly a more modern idea that has made its way into our artistic society. I do agree that, in some way, the act of painting (or using any other medium to create a finalized art piece) is its own show on its own. It can have definitive ideas and performative parts that make the end result much more powerful. Examples including art pieces where people simply put their hand prints on a large piece of paper–while the end result may not be what anyone expected, its the process of what kind of people put their hands there, how the people decided where they’d put their hands. The process itself is the story and the art. I personally do love this idea being used in many performative art pieces, and sometimes, in the right place, the process and art itself are separate forms of art that should be appreciated either way.

    Pollock himself is a great example of the process of art being taken as its own art piece, and I find it incredibly fascinating on my own terms and, in some ways, disappointed that art continues, even in today’s time, is considered a competition and one style (ie. Pollock’s performative process VS. finished art pieces) rules over them all, when art, usually no matter what, provides something new and thought-provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What is art or which part is art is usually a difficult subject to discuss because many can argue that anything can be considered art. There are some works of art where the process and reflection are vital for the work and gives a deeper meaning of the end result. Whereas, there are some where the process does not matter for the end product. No artists are the same, and work at different speeds. Art is a process, and that process differs for each artist. When we critique art, any form of art, we tend to discuss the product, but also push it further and question the artist’s intent, process, thoughts, and emotions. We usually are curious as to what drove them to create the piece they are presenting, and how they produced it. Personally, I believe all of the artist’s emotions, thoughts, brush strokes, materials, etc. are vital to the overall product. The act and process of creating is all considered art.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What I think a lot about upon the act of painting, especially with the works of Jackson Pollock, is when viewers compare their own skills to his. They might claim that literally splattering paint everywhere will mimic his works. That is true, in fact, but viewers tend to overlook the process behind these works. His paintings causes viewers to possibly say “It’s so easy, I can do that in seconds,” or “If he can do this and make a lot of money, why can’t I do the same thing?” If that was his intention then I think he might have done it well. But many forget why he’s such a well-known artist today.

    When we think about the process behind his work, it’s not simply the color he chooses: Were these paint splatters a form of aggression? What was his intention? What kind of emotions was he feeling while he was painting? How long did it take to complete? What were the consequences of painting on these large canvases, especially if he did this all by himself? When we think critically, we start looking beyond the visual element and more of the context and/or the artist themselves. It is up to the viewers whether or not they like his work, because it is all subjective. But, one thing for sure is that he was one of the first artists to experiment with abstract expressionism.

    The length of time is very important, especially for artists. If one were to rush the end result would not look as great. Artists take the time and effort to ensure that they are completely satisfied with their work. Pollack’s works may seem easy to do but if you think about the physical labor involved and potential time constraints, it’s not as simple as one would think. It makes me wonder: If Pollack began his career around this time, would he be as important as he was in the 1940s?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The act of painting, especially in Pollock’s case, is what resulted in these artworks. Each path he took, every movement, was intuitive. This lead to pieces that were never identical, and that directly reflected his inner emotions and the physical movements of the moment. I believe that the art itself is a reflection not only of the resources available to him in his current environment (sometimes including sand, glass, and other materials) but also of his emotional state. Pollock’s paintings urge us to ask questions such as what his emotional state was during its creation? Was he angry, sad, or maybe lost? Did he achieve anything emotionally with each layer of paint and a new pattern of drips and swirls as time passed? Art is guided by the process of its creation. The moments in which songs are written and the emotional state of the songwriter is what creates the essence of the song. It is the feeling conveyed within these lyrics that people experience in music time and time again. The duration of a dance and the act of the movements is also an art that conveys feeling as well as creating an experience for the artist and audience. The act of painting was a unique and significant occurrence every time Pollock and “emerging” artists painted. The product of the act of making art is the art itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. His art is pretty unique in many ways and although it may seem dull and boring to most people beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Plus this must have been the type of art people did back in his time so it must have been good during that time. So, in other words, he could have been a great painter during his time and his work is inspirational to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. ART. What is art? This could be anything. It could be painting, music, design, drawing, acting, performance , etc. Different times have a different movements, styles and values. Becoming a great artist takes time. For example Jackson Pollock was doing something different than the others. Jackson Pollock a is pure genius. His paintings are brilliant. His technique ”splashing liquid” horizontal on the floor is unseen before. He is one of the many abstract artists. There is no one doing the same style like him. Modern art is the one that is close to us, because we live while artist are creating it. For example light and space can be art. The artist named James Turrell uses light and space for his art work. There is no limits for art. The world is modern and there are no prejudice for what can be art. This is incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Before Pollock’s time, the society only sees painting as painting itself. How it looks and what it portrays, we never look at the story behinds the painting. Until now, the act of painting, the process, and the duration, everything that is behind the work reveals in front of us. The ART itself possesses multiple meanings. None of the objects in the list can identify art itself alone, they work with each other to define it’s existence.

    It is amazing to think that art can have so many identities. In endless forms, art can be created and appreciated by different people. Pollock’s work open up an new era for the art history. we see how art can be created in ways other than just putting paints on the canvas, but splashing it, emerging with the canvas. Is it easy to make? is it all that good? the answers to these question doesn’t matter, instead, we should ask, does this kind of process exist before? Have we ever think about exploring our ways of painting? And are we going to make our ideas into reality?

    On the other hand, while Pollock was experimenting with his process, many artists emerged and found their unique voices in the art society. In the end, the art itself has a broad definition, and it is defined by our endless pursuit in the art universe.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. For me, my thoughts about the act of painting and the concept of art itself have changed since I began to take more interest in art and design. From associating great art solely with great technique, familiarizing myself with various kinds of art helped me understand that art is subjective and can come in so many forms that do not confine to certain criteria. There are many artists who have created art with different motives such as expressing emotion or creating innovation in its time that contribute to how the process is like and how the art is presented. For Jackson Pollock, he took the concept of painting and shaped his art using a painting technique in its purest form and looked at the root of what it is. What I find so compelling about dynamic art such as Pollock’s and many other painters’ artwork is how they find a way to elicit meaning and art in ways we would not have thought and create a revolutionary insight into how art can be interpreted. Art doesn’t have a definitive form nor does it necessarily have to be recognizable. I believe that it is through creative thinking, technical skills, and determination all together that best represent the appeal of creating art.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I agree that art as an event is valid. Since the form is to expression from him anyway, art can be whatever Pollock chooses it to be. Whatever is on the canvas is the end product and commemorates his performance or his feelings. It doesn’t have to be what classical art consider art to be. The changes to art can come through political changes and if the artist deem it to require how art can be portrayed, then that’s their right to do so. If Pollocks chooses his art to be an event, then it can be his art of choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Painting can definitely be considered as event! Observers care more about what the artist is doing (the process) than the finished product itself since it really only looks like confusing abstract paint splatters. I once saw a video of a woman artist (I cannot recall her name) use her hair as the paintbrush to paint the floor of a small room. People that saw her in the process were more interested in the method than watching a floor get abstractly painted. It is interesting to see what may be the thought process of the artist as they see more paint splatters come alive on the canvas. The final product is considered art at is is a creation of expression, but the process can be considered art as well. It is like dancing; an art form that is observable during the process and there is not really a finished product (unless if you count a video that could be rewatched of it).

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I believe what art cannot be defined. Indeed, one may look at the final piece of an art and feel affection or hatred. However, what if one who feels hatred hears a story behind the art? Then, like how “unsympathetic response by the art community to early Jackson Pollock paintings was slowly and cautiously being refocused into more accepting and positive responses,”” his or her indifference may change to curiosity. Thus, I believe neither the process nor the finalize artwork cannot be a mark to be defined as what “art” is; it’s everything and can be anything. Also, because art holds power derived from an artist of his own intention, I believe there is no reason to ignore where and how the artist shows what he believes it’s significant to express art. Also, I have once heard a saying “to leave the privilege to the audience to decide if your art is good or bad, but rather focus on creating it itself even if it may be criticized.” From this statement, I think it will be sad to ignore the significancy of the whole process of creating anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. To me, art itself is like a physical manifestation of thoughts, ideas, and emotion. And when viewed your essentially conveying those feelings through the artwork. By viewing a piece of art carefully, and seeing minor details like brush strokes, implied movement, materials and colors, themes it can all tell a story of the artist’s ambitions of what they were trying to make or what they want to tell to a viewer. But even more so when a work of art is meant to be ambiguous and up to a viewer’s perspective. While art critics earlier waved off Pollock’s art, over time it becomes something more, it creates an identity for itself to which you grow accustomed to, and learn to appreciate it more so because of these interactions. Even watching artists create their works is definitely an event, to witness their ideas and feelings being crafted onto whatever medium they desire, so that others may enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. (This is a combined essay for ART 434 and ART 477)
    Jacqueline Garcia
    Robert Tracy
    ART 434—1001/ART 477—1002
    September 10, 2020
    Convergence
    I decided to choose Convergence by Jackson Pollock. Maybe it was just how it visually looked. Maybe it had to do with the title. Honestly, I feel like it was a little bit of both. Overall, I feel like this piece captures, all in one, the essence of what it is like to navigate through Greater Los Angeles and navigate through one of Pollack’s paintings. Looking from the outside, Greater Los Angeles seems almost like a mess. Non-Angelenos are lost, until they learn how to “read” the city; “Like earlier generations of English intellectuals who taught themselves Italian in order to read Dante in the original, I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original” (Reyner Banham). Same goes for a Pollock piece. “There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was” (Jackson Pollock). But, once you know how to navigate through them, you can acknowledge that yes maybe they look like a mess, but it is a mess with intention and purpose.
    At first glance, this piece looks like a random splatter of paint. Reading into it, we can see its development. The background seems to have started with an even layer of the light tan color. And while the black paint seems to be layered over the tan, to me I still see it as a part of the background. Compared to the other colors, it is the only one that really leaves and goes past the borders. Pollock for the most part contains the other colors, the red, blue, yellow, and white, within the edges of the painting. It makes me chuckle at the comment made by the reviewer that said his paintings have no beginning or end. Clearly, Pollock knows when he wants to end his paint splatters. So for me, I’m going to read the background as the tan and black splatters. Now, moving on into the other colors. Again, at quick glance it seems almost random, but further reading into it we can see that there are layers in the colors. The next layer after the background, from what I can decipher, is the blue. Unlike the colors which have more of a swirl effect to them, the blues seem more like splattered yet placed splotches. I believe yellow came next. This is where Pollock begins giving the paint longer strokes. Next layer of paint I believe is red. Again, long strokes and while most of the red is contained inside the border there are small strokes that leave the painting at the top edge. That leaves white as the top layer. While it continues to have long strokes, its thicker in some areas compared to the primary colors. Of course, I don’t know if this order is correct, but what I do know is that Pollock had intention when placing his colors; they are not just random splatters of paint. I also feel like even when the layers I mentioned above were done being placed he was far from done. I’m sure he must have gone back to allow colors to interweave and bleed into each other and added extra strokes wherever he felt needed.
    It was the interweaving and the paint bleeding into each other that reminded me of the “mess” that is Greater Los Angeles. I say mess sarcastically because just like I determined that this piece is planned, so is Greater Los Angeles. I see an essence of what Los Angeles is within this painting. Immediately when looking at the swirls within this painting my mind correlated them with the Los Angeles’ freeways. The freeway system essentially connects you to every section of Greater Los Angeles. The strokes in this painting do that as well. You can start on any part of the stroke, any color, and follow along until you reach a convergence of the strokes and hop on another color which can lead you to the opposite side of the piece. The convergence of the strokes resemble the spaghetti bowls you’d encounter while driving along the freeway. The thicker sections of the strokes, in my eyes, could represent how congested Los Angeles traffic can get. The blue splotches could work as the large buildings and structures you would encounter as you drive to and from work. Then there is the black and tan background. I look at that background and I see the many suburbs spread across Greater Los Angeles. The residents within the city have one thing in common and that is their interconnection with the freeway. So while the black drips in the background are in different densities, they are all the same color to show their connection to the layers above them. As I mentioned above, the red drips are really the only ones that really go past the canvas. To me this can represent not only how the freeway can connect you to the rest of California, but it can symbolize how Greater Los Angeles culture leaks its way out. For instance, I have never lived in Los Angeles, but I can recognize that the freeway is a major part of Greater Los Angeles society.
    I think part of the beauty with abstract art is being to able to interpret it in multiple ways. And I think that is why Convergence stood out to me. I quickly found myself comparing the piece to Greater Los Angeles. And I do not think a painting made with random splatters would do that. Clearly Pollock had intent with every movement he made with the paint. Looking at Greater Los Angeles from an eagle’s eye, it sort of resembles a Pollock piece, don’t you think? It might look like a “mess,” but just like the paint drips are made with purpose, so are the freeways.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I agree with my peers in the sense that I believe art is just a label term used for creating. Because it is a practiced so widespread and used by so many, there is no possible way to gatekeep what end product is to be seen as art and what isn’t. While some of Pollock’s pieces I may not be able to resonate with, I am still fascinated by his skills and the techniques he used that no one had seen before in painting, at least in the media. That is what is intriguing about an “artist’s” mind, it is unpredictable, and sometimes unreadable. However, Pollock and others like him, allow viewers to draw from their own experiences and opinions possibly reaching a larger audience than some more “conventional” artists may.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I agree with my peers in the sense that I believe art is just a label term used for creating. Because it is a practiced so widespread and used by so many, there is no possible way to gatekeep what end product is to be seen as art and what isn’t. While some of Pollock’s pieces I may not be able to resonate with, I am still fascinated by his skills and the techniques he used that no one had seen before in painting, at least in the media. That is what is intriguing about an “artist’s” mind, it is unpredictable, and sometimes unreadable. However, Pollock and others like him, allow viewers to draw from their own experiences and opinions possibly reaching a larger audience than some more “conventional” artists may.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Art comes in many different types of forms nowadays. Whether it is painting, designing, composing, performing, and so on, the word art is in a way, incredibly broad. What makes something truly artistic is the passion and dedication that someone channels towards their craft. Many artists use their art to display their emotions and struggles, as well as their effort and dedication. So, in a way, the process of making art is in turn, also a form of art, which can be widely seen in Jackson Pollock’s works.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I think that art is very subjective to the viewer and the creator. If Pollock finds the process to be more significant than the end product than he is ultimately right to think so. Personally, I find the whole process to be an art. The moment an idea hits and the individual starts to act on it whether it be a brushstroke or humming the start of a melody is what I would define as art. When thinking about critiques and presentations, the main selling point is the process and not just how you got to the end result. Sure the end result can catch attention, but to know how something was created and what it took to create it hooks the audience to know more about you. When reading about Jackson Pollock and other avant-garde artists, we seek more than just their finished product, because we want to understand how their brains work and how they stepped away from following the norm of the time. We seek to understand the whole process, and it’s the same for those of us in the fine arts field. All studio classes build your character and make you understand yourself and your process.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. (My first opinion paper for Art 477-1002)
    Patrick Manabat
    Robert Tracy
    Art 477
    September 10, 2020

    First Opinion Writing Assignment

    Looking through Pollock’s work, I really wasn’t sure what to think of them. At first glance they all seem to be quite a bit of a mess; I felt that the more I looked at them, the more confused I had become. One of them specifically had me in more of a trance than any of the other works, and that would be Pollock’s Convergence, 1952. When looking at this work, I felt that I was always looking for something, and when I did find something everything seemed to have disappeared. As a reviewer once stated to Pollock, the “pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end,” which is exactly how I felt with the piece. However, I do not view this statement in any negative light, but rather as a benefit that enables the artwork to garner attention from those curious enough to attempt to find a solution to an endless puzzle. Pollock had even commented that the reviewer “didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was.”

    Starting with my first impression of Pollock’s Convergence, I had originally saw the work as a kind of pasta, scattered around at my feet, mucky, indescribable, but interesting at the same time. I really wasn’t sure what I was looking at, but I had decided to investigate further, and to look beyond what I had initially saw. Before I knew it, I saw a baby human face on the top have of the image, I wasn’t sure if this had any significance to me or to this work, and so I looked even further. I found monsters, eyes, strange expressions, ineligible writing, and more. Not only that, but the more I seemed to focus on one object or any moderately identifiable thing in the painting, I seem to lose most of the other things I had originally saw. I feel that this parallels quite well with how the reviewer described as “no beginning and no end.”

    Moving forward, the work ultimately made me feel much more confused, but in a positive way. For me, it is almost as if I was given a puzzle that was impossible to solve from the beginning, yet there were so many ways to tackle the problem, that it was, in a strange way, worth looking into. In the end, I didn’t feel stupid or tricked, but rather, distracted and dumbfounded. At a certain point, I knew I had started to overthink the work, but I suppose that is what gives the piece its magic. The power to take on curious viewers, and to bend them, lead them into something else, to move forward, but also to move backward; endlessly.

    In addition, I felt that the reviewer had correctly assessed Pollock’s work. That the work is, endless, without a start, and without a finish. However, I felt that this person may have underestimated the grip that Pollock had on its viewers. We may stop and ask ourselves, “why are we looking at this?” but we are looking at it all the same. Pollock’s Convergence’s demands attention just as many other artworks do. To say that such a trait is useless or unintuitive, ultimately demeans, what I feel, a piece of art should work to achieve.

    Name of art object: Convergence, 1952
    Quote: “There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was.”(Jackson Pollock)

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I believe there is a certain disconnect between the artist, the process of the art and the final result of the piece. Each piece can be separated and considered its own thing. For example, Jackson Pollock is a famous artist, many people could know his name without or knowing any of his art pieces. In a similar sense people can view a Jackson Pollock piece, be astounded by it, and not even know who created it. I do believe the actions Pollock took in order to create his pieces were a form of art, sort of like a ballerina rehearsing dance moves. Pollock instead was like free form Jazz artist, moving in whichever way his body felt like moving in order to create his pieces. The way Pollock created his piece could be separated from the piece itself and can be viewed as a form of interpretive dance. The final result of the painting can be viewed as a separate entity as its own. One can see the painting and not know the process behind it, but one can still be moved by the piece in a different way. I believe Pollock’s success and overshadowing of other artists came about because he was able to fuse the process of the art and the finished product into one in order to create a brand name for himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Alexander Lopez
    Robert Tracy
    ART 477-1002
    September 10, 2020
    Volonté de puissance
    First Opinion/Position Writing Assignment
    As I was looking through the abstract art section of the Hal Foster (volume 2) textbook, one image really stuck with me. The image is a painting called Volonté de puissance, 1946, by French artist Jean Dubuffet. I chose this painting because it was the only painting that gave me a visceral reaction upon my first glance at it. I felt as if my fight or flight response was triggered upon viewing this image in the textbook. I felt a plethora of negative emotions, which grew the longer I gazed at this painting. “Abstract Expressionism was the first American art that was filled with anger as well as beauty”, stated Robert Motherwell. This image’s visuals scream Abstract Expressionism and anger. I personally find this painting to be very ugly and my opinion on it is mostly negative, however, I will not discount that there is some semblance of “beauty” within the process of creating such a piece.
    My initial reaction to the piece was that it instantly reminded me of Paleolithic and Neolithic art. The overall shape of the male figure in this image is similar to the shape of the Venus of Willendorf. I am fond of the Venus of Willendorf, I appreciate the form and the context of sympathetic magic behind the sculpture. I feel quite the opposite when I look at the Volonté de puissance. It lacks the charm and form that the Venus has. The figure in the painting is quite flat. There is little to no shading in the image, and the background consists of 2 colors; a dark blue and a muddy brown color. Although the image itself is flat, the painting has form and seemingly comes off the canvas in a confronting manner. I dislike the globs of paint and brush strokes visible throughout the piece. Jean Dubuffet seems to have laid the paint on thick in some areas and ran the paint thin in other areas. The paint is thick in the areas of the male figure, it looks like he used a pallet knife to make grooves and cuts in the paint. This makes the figure appear as if he has scars or holes scattered across his body, which I find in this context disgusting. The thinner areas of paint are strewn across the background of this piece. You can tell the artist started this painting off with the figure and did the background as an afterthought. There are white spaces between the figure and the background as if he did not want the paint to touch. Some areas of the canvas peek through the paint as if the artist got lazy and did not bother covering the entirety of the background. Overall, the painting just seems unfinished to me, but in the same vein I do not know what you could add to this painting to make it feel more complete.
    The thing I dislike most about the painting is the figure in the center of it. The figure itself is unnerving to look at. The figure has a gaunt expression on his face, he is unkempt, and he is also naked. Everything about his appearance screams primal to me. The human form is abstracted and almost unrecognizable. The form looks closer in appearance to that of a rotisserie chicken than a humanoid shape. The image is somewhat reminiscent of a child’s drawing of a person, but the intent behind it feels a lot more sinister. The more I stare at the figure the more I dislike it. The chest and pubic hair of the figure begin to resemble a human face as I continue to stare at it. It appears as if a shady face is staring directly at me, as if the head of the figure was just a faux head and real face was located on the torso. The figure reminds me of a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” In a sense, I can feel myself become more “monstrous” as my disdain for this image grows. It also feels like this image is staring back at me in more than one way.
    Although I express many dislikes for this painting, there are a couple factors that I find redeeming, and in a sense “beautiful”, about this painting. For one, I appreciate the colors used in the piece. Besides the muddy browns and beiges, Jean Dubuffet uses a subtle complementary color scheme of blue and orange. The eyes of the figure are a muted orange, while some of the background of the image is a darker blue. I think the subtlety of color is clever, and it shows the artist’s understanding of color theory. Despite my dislike for the painting, I do not hate that it exists. I am glad that this piece exists, it made me think in a provocative manner that I would have not thought otherwise for most other pieces of art. Most artists strive to create beautiful works that are pleasing to the eye, but Jean Dubuffet pushes the boundaries of art an abstraction with this unappealing piece.
    Abstract art can convey so many emotions without portraying a clear image. Anger is an emotion that correlates to Abstract Expressionism due to the discordant nature of the art form. I can feel the anger coming from Jean Dubuffet’s, Volonté de puissance. I myself felt angry just looking at the piece. Although I felt many negative emotions looking at the piece, I could recognize the hidden “beauty” and value behind the piece. Jean Dubuffet showcases his understanding of art and expresses it through this proactive abstraction. This contrarian piece of art challenged me to think in an unconventional way. In a sense, I felt immersed with the feeling of anger and “beauty” through abstract expressionism. Jean Dubuffet challenged my conventional beliefs on art and succeeded in making me feel the emotions behind the creation and visual aspect of the piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Ira Macorncan
    Robert Tracy
    Art 477
    9/10/2020

    From the various pieces that we’ve looked at many of them are so similar, yet also unique; It was something to consider while choosing a particular painting or work. But something about Joan Mitchell’s: Garden piece that stuck out for me. While having the title be called Garden the expressive movement of colors gives me somewhat of a calm feeling. The vibrancy of it all without it needed to take any particular shape or form just seems to put me at ease. But because it has no shape or form it can’t be totally defined about it’s content or the context. There’s no true visual of a story, and because of it I believe it all to be more interesting. It allows you to just wonder. The power of human imagination is a strong thing, allowing the human mind to think up things from the most mundane to the most amazing, eccentric visuals in your mind. Your own mind can tell a story when it becomes inspired. The Garden gives me a tranquil thought when looking at the different colors and strokes. Almost as if you’re looking out a window, yet because of the distance you can’t truly make out what you’re seeing. You assume it to be lush and full of life, common knowledge from your mind would tell you it’s mostly green, with some splashes of other colors, it must be a beautiful garden. But because it’s not clear it lets your mind wander about what makes up those colors. Maybe it’s a small garden with lush flowing green leaves with a few rows of flowers around? Perhaps it’s a forest with a large array of flora scattered about? There’s no definitive answer, and I like that leaving it mostly up to the viewer’s interpretation by only giving us colors, vague shapes, and a premise of the word garden. There’s no true answer nor is there a wrong or right answer, just as much as there’s no story in the visual, and that there is no true beginning or end. Which is why I feel this quote works well. “There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was.” (Jackson Pollock) While he is referring to his own work, I believe it still works in the context. Not everything needs to tell a story, nor does it need to be cohesive or well thought out. Sometimes things just need to be a feeling, an expression of what you are or was feeling at the time. Maybe something that would inspire them or invoked a feeling within. And the piece shows us this not through the image, but through the colors and strokes. Heavier splotches of paint, long strokes of colors, short bursts of vibrant strokes here and there. You can try to piece out emotions or actions one does when making certain works of art. Painting I feel is one of those methods, since it relies heavily on how one uses their brush, how much paint they use, and the blending of colors to create an image. And the Garden clearly does a lot of that. So these elements combined just lets my mind wander a lot especially when looking at specific areas of the painting(s) too. Of course it’s never expected for anyone to share the same thoughts as me about the painting nor to expect it to be exactly what the artist interpreted. And I find that to be why it’s a great example of an abstract piece of art. It makes you think, it makes you wonder, it gives you feelings or thoughts by just the visuals alone without examining it closer. Of course having you think about it, is the ideal point of an abstract piece, but personally I don’t always think about many abstract pieces too much. For me most pieces either don’t interest me enough to get my attention for very long, or I sometimes never understood what I was meant to be looking at other than say twisted imagery or splotches of paint. So for this one to get my attention and to make me think, kind of helps me understand a bit more of some abstract work. Even if my mind still isn’t used to it, I believe Joan Mitchell did a wonderful job even if she seemed to be in Pollock’s shadow.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I believe that in any artistic media, true “art” comes from the motivation of emotion driving the creation of something. It’s these emotions that we create through the process that creates a piece, which can alternatively be looked at subjectively. I feel like labeling something as “art” is far more complex than just saying it looks good as a piece or doesn’t. I’m a firm believer that art is expression and it conveys emotion in a multitude of different ways. Of course, art to some extent or another is technical, mostly adhering to principles, but for abstract art, emotion and expression I feel are the driving factors. One of these ways is through the process of creating. We as artists embrace this process and we often pour ourselves into it and that greatly affects the piece that you create and the perspectives that you create with it. In relation to painting, there are many ways to go about the process of painting and each way can tell a different emotion. For example, splattering paint across canvas can signify anger, slow and steady stroke can evoke sense of serenity. Those feelings comes from the process of expression that the painter pours on the canvas.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. “Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” I believe Jackson Pollock was the beginning of the ART movement with Gallerists Peggy Guggenheim, Betty Parsons, and the critic Harold Rosenberg. Pollock’s large-scale paintings, the process that he created, moved and inspired the great “emerging” artists like Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Mark Tobey, and Dinh Q. Le.

    While the style might not agree with everyone who likes paintings that fit nicely in a frame, you must admire what they were able to convey on canvas such as the Mural, 1943 by Jackson Pollock (81′ ¼” x 19′ 10″) meant for Peggy Guggenheim’s new townhouse, which has traveled all over the world.

    Jackson Pollock’s work had reached not only the high-brow New York critic Clement Greenberg but embraced by American and European avant-garde audiences all while he was still alive.

    CeCe Kay

    Like

  35. Art has no boundaries in terms of the universe where it is formed and cannot be molded when evaluated in terms of purpose. It is an existential expression dependent on the matter in terms of the world in which it is expressed. Art is a universe that includes human thoughts, feelings, observations, and perceptions. Although it is not possible to draw boundaries within such a field, it would be too daring to claim that the doors opening to and feeding this universe consist solely of the material world we live in it. Art emerges from the interaction of the inner and outer worlds of the artist, which are separated by the human factor, with each other as a whole, cannot be born from only one of these two worlds. Artists and artworks often serve as opening new doors to other artists and other works of art. In my personal view of art, being a gateway to art is much more important than creating a work of art, especially in Pollock’s case.

    Like

  36. Literally, anything can be art, and everyone is a critic. Looking at Pollock’s art, many people may look at it as not being “real art” since many of his paintings are made by dripping/splashing/flicking paint onto the canvas. These people may see Pollock’s work as something anyone can do, even a child, and that he is not showing any talent. While I am not a huge fan of Pollock, because I do not really like abstract art, I can still appreciate what he does. Art is something that can be used to show emotion and self-expression, which I can see in Pollock’s pieces. You can see the work that went into creating each piece and the different techniques that are used, however, to the untrained eye, you might see a mess. That’s what I do like about Pollock’s art, at first glance it looks so simple, but when you take a closer look you can see that a lot went into the creation. I like seeing the passion that goes into making art, I can appreciate someone’s art when I can see that the artists love what they do and put in the effort to make something they can be proud of. As long as the artist likes to create, it really does not matter what others say.

    Like

  37. Painting is along and careful process that takes a lot of time, patience, and inspiration to create and complete. Painting is one of the many works of art that everyone likes to the point of learning, expression and perfection. Which is what people must do in their line of work.

    Like

  38. Painting may be the longest painful staking process that someone could ever go through, or you could splash some paint on a canvas and put your name on it. Some art like Jackson Pollock’s may look like he just splashed some paint on a canvas, said he made it and made his money, but he actually had a technical way of going about his painting. Do I consider him the best painter compared to others, that is personal preference, but I prefer painters that can create a beautiful scene with precision and accuracy of their marks and not just random splashes.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s