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?