A Heaving Space

The following words from Ehrenzweig approximate very closely Andreas Neufert‘s thesis that Pollock’s gestures mimic the eye movements stimulated by cubism:

“Cubism went out of its way to deny the eye stable focusing points round which the rest of the composition could be organized. instead, the eye was sent on a fool’s errand. When it fastened on one feature the cubistic fragments fell into a new pattern, which was shattered again as soon as the eye wandered on and was caught by another feature. The picture kept heaving in and out as the eye tried to infuse some measure of stability into the pattern.

The first impact of Cubism attacked conscious sensibilities and the gestalt principle ruling them. We have to give in to this attack in order to enjoy the pictures and become aware of the new highly mobile space that Cubism created. The weaving in and out of the picture plane was perhaps the first manifestation of a new abstract pictorial space which later became fully revealed in the painting of Jackson Pollock…”

Bu what is more vivid for me is the characterization of Pollock’s space as heaving in and out. That’s how I see it when I stand close, and I have to move back to have the picture flatten out and reveal its large patterns. This back and forth makes two Pollocks in a sense, divides the perception of the work into two modes. This recalls Judd’s theory of disparity—with respect to Pollock also recognized by Shep Steiner, who stresses the absolute difference between close and more distant reading.


Jackson Pollock, #1 1949

This entry was posted in American Modernism, Principles of Abstraction and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Heaving Space

  1. mike says:

    An excellent Persian rug has the same effect. I have had the good fortune of spending many hours following my occular guides as they frame and shape my thoughts. The beauty of a good Tabriz rug is it shifts between figuration and abstraction on that very same axis, endlessly splitting its priorities. That split is an offering, a conscious slip between realms of knowing and endless visual exploration. The forms diverge and coalesce by virtue of pattern, in Pollock’s case the pattern is the repetition of the wrist-flick…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *