Action paintings

oil on canvas:Pollock’s Guardians of the Secret .Photo: Special Arrangement  

During World War II, and even after it, many artists moved away from the troubles in Europe to America. The centre of the western art world began to shift from Paris to New York City. Artists were horrified by the cruel acts they had seen during the war, and also turned away from European styles of painting. A new style called Abstract Expressionism grew at this time. Artists used lines, shapes, and colours to express their feelings. Many artists painted on huge canvasses to have a strong effect on those who looked at their art.

Art in motion

Jackson Pollock was an American painter born in 1912 in the state of Wyoming, where his father was a farmer. Pollock moved to New York City to study art when he was 18. He became famous for his large scale “drip paintings”. He would spread out his big canvas on the floor of his studio, which was a large shed. Once he painted on a canvas that was 20 feet long for his friend Peggy Guggenheim. She was a rich art collector. She liked the painting, and allowed him to show his paintings in her gallery.

Instead of using paints from tubes like most artists, Pollock used cans of enamel house paint. He called his artwork “action paintings” because he would move all around his canvas, and sometimes even step on it. He would drip, splash, and throw paint directly on to it from paint cans. Imagine the fun he had!

Some critics called his paintings messy and crazy, but Pollock always said that he was very controlled when pouring out the paint. If you look at his paintings, your eye can follow the movement of the paint. This way, you also become part of the action in the painting. Jackson would sign his paintings by leaving his hand prints in a corner of the canvas, just the way cave painters did in the olden days.

Jazz was the popular music in New York City at the time. Jazz is expressive and musicians make up the music as they go along. Many abstract expressionist painters, including Jackson Pollock enjoyed jazz. He listened to it while he painted. Much of his painting is like jazz because it was all done in the spur of the moment without much planning.

Pollock died young in a car accident in 1956. He was 44. His work influenced many modern artists. His paintings are on display in Modern Art museums throughout the world such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), National Gallery of Australia, and National Gallery of Canada.

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 6:37:41 PM |

Next Story