Pollock’s Place

The previous post is obviously wrong when it says that Pollock’s work was not theorized as a place. Harold Rosenberg‘s famous formulation that the so-called “action painters” had reinvented the canvas as “an arena in which to act,” describes how the artwork is a place for the artist. But it’s less often stated that Rosenberg’s antagonist, the formalist critic Clement Greenberg, also understood that Pollock had established a place. With the elimination of fictive places, whether Golgotha or Mont St. Victoire, the place of modernist painting is the picture itself, and that inevitably means the place of the viewer, here and now, in front of the work. I think it’s a rare critic and an unusual artist who knows that these two places are the same.

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