Jackson Pollock 51

from kottke

In 1950, Swiss photographer Hans Namuth took some photos of Jackson Pollock painting some of his drip paintings, which were used to illustrate a 1951 article in ArtNews. Along with photos published alongside a piece in Life in 1949, they made Pollock and his unusual technique famous.

Namuth returned with a film camera and captured the artist painting in full color motion in a short film called Jackson Pollock 51.

More here.

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  1. There is a distinct beauty in art. One that can’t be found in anything else. Art is one of the only things in our society today that has the power to make people feel emotion just through looking at something. The thing about art is that there is no precise rulebook to what you can or can’t do. There are tons of variations of different painting styles, different types of canvases, different types of paints, different types of brushes, and tons of other kinds of factors that are given up to the artist themselves. The artist determines what their interpretation of something is or how they want to symbolize something. Each artist is unique in their own way.

    The artist Jackson Pollock demonstrate this fact perfectly. The way he uses precise movements of his feet and arms in order to create the amazing lines and textures that are present in his paintings. Also he very uniquely always paints on the floor because he says that’s what makes him feel most “at home” and because it makes him feel more a part of the actual painting.

    Although it is a beautiful thing how unique each artist, being an artist can sometimes lend itself to depression and alcohol and drug abuse. This is because the action of painting in and of itself is a solitary task. Artists usually complete paintings while alone in a quiet area. This fact combined with the expansive imagination and personality of artists can create a combination that sometimes lead to depression and other types of mental illness. Sadly this was the case with Jackson Pollock.

    Jackson Pollock was well known to be an alcoholic, but went sober for two years before starting to work with a Swiss photographer named Hans Namuth. While working with Namuth he suddenly poured himself a glass of bourbon after coming inside from painting. After this Namuth and Pollock got into an argument, this caused Pollock to get angry and threaten Namuth’s life by picking up cowbells and threatening to hit him with them. This mental instability and alcoholism later led to his death six years later.

    Pollock isn’t the only famous painter to heavily abuse substances. The famous painters Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh also suffered from substance abuse. Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock are three of the most famous artists in history and they were all substance abusers. I don’t think that that’s a coincidence.

  2. The rise in the popularity of Jackson Pollock’s work is emblematic of the lowering of standards within modern culture. Just like any other profession, painting is a skill. The ability to take disparate shapes and arrange them in such a way to invoke different forms is a skill that takes many years to hone. For example, in the Orthodox Christian iconographic tradition, icon painters must train for ,”…many years to become a good painter. According to the master iconographer Archimandrite Zenon, 10,000 hours of practice are needed to become proficient,” This need to master your craft is not limited to religious paintings, it is something every painter should strive for. Although Pollock did study, “under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League of New York,” the paintings he is remembered for, his drip paintings, do not demonstrate any professional skill or finesse. These paintings are the essence of chaos, disorder, and meaninglessness. Pollock’s work is described as performative in the article, which is fitting. He seems to be trying to bring attention to himself rather than create a well-made piece of art.

  3. His art was a part of a larger trend known colloquially as modern art. This trend is characterized by the discarding of the traditional techniques and rigor of art in favor of unskilled artistic statements. Before this movement, artists still made statements with their art, but these statements were backed up by skill. They would use their skills to portray their message. “The world’s best painting was no use in your mind if you didn’t have the brush skills,” The modern art movement put expression above ability, to the point where rather than pondering the message of the piece, the layman thinks, “I could have done that,”

  4. Also, this criticism does not mean that all art must be in a realist style. The aforementioned Orthodox Christian icons are not made to exactly echo real life, nevertheless they are thoughtfully and skillfully composed to evoke spiritual realities. Even the “Indian sand painters of the West,” who inspired Pollock’s work demonstrate their skill and craftsmanship in their work. These religious works, despite being far from realistic, show the skill of the maker through their composition and patterns.

  5. Jackson Pollock is truly an inspiration for those involved in the world of art and those who just simply want to actually express themselves. His different way of painting on the floor and dripping paint is more of a symbol that just a way of art. It proves the point that you do not need to be a follower, but you should instead be a leader. People look up to him because of his interesting work and they take notice how he is unlike the rest. Sticking to what you like to do and opening yourself up to new things is truly a must if you want to fully enhance yourself, and Pollock’s work is one good way of encouraging us to do this. Us as individuals need to be who we want to be, and not fall into the norm of the people around us. Having uniqueness to ourselves is what makes us who we are, and if we do not step out of our comfort zone we will be just like the common rest of the world. Pushing forward and sticking up for what we like or want is a prime goal that we should all have in our heads. We need to keep in mind that being different is not always a bad thing, and in fact it can inspire others around us to reach for their goals and express who they are and how they want to live their lives.

  6. As early as Elementary school art class I remember learning about the great masters such as Van Gogh, Warhol, and Renoir but what stuck out to me the most was the chaotic nature of Jackson Pollock. Although I did not really understand it then, Jackson Pollock was able to express the attitude of the postmodern world. In fifth grade we gathered around a blank piece of paper and the teacher instructed us to mix any colours we wanted and splash it down on the floor. This sort of unadulterated freedom did not exist in the realm of the fifth grade art classroom often so we went crazy. Pollock’s work reminds me a bit of Picasso’s work, Guernica. In this piece, Picasso describes the state of Guernica after being bombed by the Nazis. With discombobulated figures and shapes making up the canvas, Picasso depicted what he saw and felt. Much like Picasso, Pollock also expresses himself through his art. Pollok however does not use shapes not figures but instead paint splatter. One can feel the tumultuous nature of the world during the time Pollock was active through his art.
    Pollock describes the way he paints in Pollock 51. He speaks about being on his knees looking at the painting from all four sides. He says that he can express himself through his art because he has a concept of it before he comes. Pollock lets the painting live embracing mistakes. Pollock allows the ideas and feelings live through his art. This idea started after Impressionism where no longer did the art have to depict something but it could feel like something instead. In the video, we are shown Pollock creating a work through a glass. Contrasted with what we did in elementary school, one can easily see how methodical Pollock is with his art but yet freedom in how he feels. Pollock’s interesting approach to art has changed the way we think about art and how to make art. I think that learning about Pollock at an early age has allowed for me to be more creative and think outside the box. Pollock’s different approach to art has inspired me to always look at things from different angles.

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