Art Quiz: The Answer is Jackson Pollock

I’m guessing that everyone answered this question correctly. We all know — and some of us love — the art of Jackson Pollock.

Convergence – Oil by Jackson Pollock 1952

Not having an academic background in art — abstract or otherwise — I knew nothing of Jackson Pollock until I began playing Masterpiecethe art auction game — with friends and family. I fell in love at once with Greyed Rainbow and would fiercely battle any competitor who tried to outbid me for the painting. I would even purchase it and hold on to it at times when I knew the painting I had was a forgery.

Once introduced to Pollock, my art world exploded — much like the colors and brushstrokes of his paintings. He inspired me in a way no other artist — abstract, impressionist, or realist — has ever done.

Many people dislike Pollock’s work, or at least are ambivalent toward it. My husband is one. He sees nothing of interest or value in any of Pollock’s art. Of course, Pollock’s out-of-control lifestyle makes it difficult, I think, to truly appreciate him as an artist. He was a troubled, emotionally-abusive man. He cheated on his wife — artist Lee Krasner — drank heavily, and died in a single-car crash in 1956. His mistress, Ruth Kligman, was a passenger in the car and survived the accident.

Critics have assailed Pollock. One said Pollock’s works were “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore meaningless”. Another proclaimed “This is not art — it is a joke in bad taste.” Yet for all the criticism, there’s another aspect of Pollock’s art that we should consider. It is expressive. It’s been likened to painting not a thing but an event, a concept that led to the term “action painting”, coined in 1952 by Harold Rosenberg.

It’s also of interest, I think, to put Pollock’s art into its proper historical — and political — context. For a bit of fascinating reading, check out “Pollock and After“, a series of critical debates on abstract expressionism. In the fourth chapter, Eva Cockcroft describes the art movement as “A Weapon of the Cold War”. In her writings, she argues that the United States government and wealthy elite embraced Pollock and abstract expressionism in order to put the United States in the forefront of global art in contrast to the art of “socialist realism”.

The Jackson Pollock Organization provides this information about Convergence, the first painting shown above:

At the time of the painting, the United States took very seriously the threat of Communism and the cold war with Russia. Convergence was the embodiment of free speech and freedom of expression. Pollock threw mud in the face of convention and rebelled against the constraints of society’s oppression. It was everything that America stood for all wrapped up in a messy, but deep package. On that same note, some of Pollock’s works were even sponsored by the Congress for Cultural Freedom (an anti-communist advocacy group founded in 1950), which was backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA appreciated Pollock’s style, because it steered clear of social realism and overt political gestures. Pollock’s abstract work was hard to decipher, but his rebellious nature and expressions of freedom were clearly evident.

And, if you’re a fan of his work — as I am — you’ll enjoy this presentation of The Top 40 Jackson Pollock Paintings.

Thanks for playing along with this “Art Quiz” feature. Regardless of your opinions of Pollock and Abstract Expressionism, I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at an important part of American art history.

 

 

9 Comments

    1. Isn’t it interesting how something so seemingly random as Pollock’s works are actually very difficult to create? Abstract art has always been a bit of a puzzle to me, and I’ve learned there’s definitely more to it than we might first think. Do you still have any of your father’s paintings? What a legacy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I do have many of his paintings. I inherited none of his talent and was always mystified why he went for the abstract when he had such talent painting portraits or real scenes. That is how unsophisticated I am!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve loved Pollock ever since I first saw “Greyed Rainbow” in that Masterpiece game. 🙂 He was such a troubled soul, though. I watched the movie starring Ed Harris. He did a phenomenal job, but it was so painfully emotional I was a wreck after seeing it. I could never watch it again. Have you seen it? I’m wondering if anyone else had a reaction like I did.

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