Tag Archives: Jackson Pollock

Easter and The Totem

I don’t think I can explain why I like this piece. It’s an example of Pollock’s late figurative work, coming after the Black Paintings and after Convergence and Blue Poles, contemporary with The Deep and Portrait and a Dream. I … Continue reading

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Size and Importance

Further on from the previous post—if Stella was part of a larger, more general response to abstract expressionism, I think the generally accepted understanding of that response has been too limited. We usually hear that it was a reaction against the … Continue reading

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Abstraction in Iran

My facebook friend from Vancouver, Mohammad Salemy, has written a piece about the modernist art collection in Tehran. It’s worth a read. The collection is very rich, but right now I’m interested in the abstraction. Stella spent time there in … Continue reading

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Destruction

Further to the phenomenon of iconoclasm or demolition of cultural monuments—the first thing that comes to mind is that modern art has always been iconoclastic and in fact very destructive. I’m enraged to read about the burning of old Korans … Continue reading

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Snapshot

Two posts back I mentioned two concepts of the picture. The second one—broken, fugitive, moving, unstable—has a definite relation to the most profound idea in modern photography, the “decisive moment.” You could even connect it to street photography in particular, … Continue reading

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No Creativity

Just been reading an interesting article in The Slate. It just says in very plain language what I’ve felt for a long time, namely that the rhetoric of creativity in business is merely rhetoric. Here’s one quote: “This is the … Continue reading

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The Basics

John Berger could be a stupidly moralistic critic, but he was perceptive. He notoriously rejected Pollock as a decadent of the age of individualism, meaning he didn’t really understand Pollock at all, but then listen to this: “Imagine a man … Continue reading

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The Deep

This late Pollock has come in for some critical contempt over the years, not least because the title seems to confer on it a Melvillean sort of portentiousness, but without Melville’s humor. It has to be Melville because it has … Continue reading

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Starry Reflections

My theory about Pollock’s Reflection of the Big Dipper is that the title should be taken literally. It shows reflections of clouds, stars and tree branches in a puddle. I just saw the piece in person for the first time … Continue reading

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Chaos Shimmering Through

In an old copy of the NYRB I just found an article about Alfred Brendel, who quotes the poet Novalis: “Chaos, in a work of art, should shimmer through the veil of order.” So now I can see where Ehrenzweig … Continue reading

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All-overness

Greenberg had this to say about what he regarded as Pollock’s major achievement: “It wasn’t the space. I think the shallow illusion of depth had Cubist antecedents, and of course there was Miró’s indeterminate space. When Bryan Robertson writes about … Continue reading

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Watching Landscape

Another one of Pollock’s remarks is a real eye opener for me, a lesson: “I don’t look at the view, I watch it. The land is alive, tells you things when you let it.” Very interesting, and inspiring.

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No Need to Read

I just came across a book that collects all of Jackson Pollock’s sayings, at least as they have been recorded. Unlike some artists, he wrote very little. One remark caught my eye: “You don’t got to read all the time … Continue reading

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Invisible

Earlier remarks about the invisible greater part of an artwork used only classical, canonical paintings for examples. Actually, the point applies to abstraction more than anything, and the drive to eliminate the superfluous, which in some cases takes the form … Continue reading

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The Lost Steps

Returning to an earlier discussion of books and art, my own favorite iconic novel of art is Alejo Carpentier‘s The Lost Steps. Although it is about a musicologist, it does have a lot to say about abstraction, if we can … Continue reading

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Professionalism as Ending

I know that the previous post ended on an apparent contradiction. Rothko’s mature and characteristic  work certainly looks strong in comparison to what preceded it—simplified, clarified, professionalized and rationalized, but it’s no longer an origin, more a conclusion. The way … Continue reading

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Voices from the World

The recent interview with Michel Serres in Artforum was a bit of an eye opener for me, in that he is saying some of the same things as I say, though I have never read him. Well…similar. He thinks we … Continue reading

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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 … Continue reading

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An Expressivist Smithson?

The publication date of Ehrenzweig‘s book was 1967, but he died the year before. He was well versed in contemporary art, and mentions the color field painters, Neo-Dada and Op Art, and has something important to say about them all. … Continue reading

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Aging of the New Art

Following from the previous post, Ehrenzweig has a great sensitivity to the way that art ages and dies in our perception, and he understands that changes in the way that we see it are objective, that the work itself has … Continue reading

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Anton Ehrenzweig

I’m just reading Anton Ehrenzweig‘s The Hidden Order of Art, though I’m ashamed to admit that it took so long to get to it. Years ago I was a close student of Robert Smithson, and this was his main reference. … Continue reading

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Pulses

Been reading Emerson. He confirms something mentioned more than once on this blog: “Nature hates calculators; her methods are saltatory and impulsive. Man lives by pulses; our organic movements are such; and the chemical and ethereal agents are undulatory and … Continue reading

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And more

Back in my teaching days I was once challenged by a student who asked why I was always harping on about Jackson Pollock. Might have mentioned that artist three times in three different classes on contemporary art. The student just … Continue reading

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Biomorphic

The previous comments on Hofmann and Stella started me thinking about this work. Most of the Moby Dick works combine the curvy forms of the wave/whale shapes with geometrical sections, but this one is completely biomorphic, maybe even expressionist. The … Continue reading

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Demons

Some readers might be confused by my references to demons, especially in the context of the quote from Boris Groys in an earlier post, which might leave the impression that they are personal. The demons I’m talking about are social. … Continue reading

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Entangled

The interlacing method offers a beautiful dance of forms, as complex and layered as one could want, unified through the unbroken flow of line. Clearly, this is an important source for Pollock. But also important are all the pictorial possibilities, … Continue reading

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The Wall

I want to be clear that the inhuman does not mean geometry, which in fact is all too human. The concept is not idealist and has nothing to do with ideas of “purity,” such as pure abstraction or pure form, … Continue reading

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Art and the Inhuman

Following on from the previous post, the way that paintings overcome the necessary limits of a single work attributable to a single author is through the objectivity of the aesthetic, but this is not well understood today because both viewers … Continue reading

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Scale and Composition

Shep Steiner’s recent comment affirms that T.J.Clark’s recent LRB article on Picasso and British art is worth reading. What Clark is responding to is Picasso’s skill at scaling the image to the size of the canvas, something that all great … Continue reading

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Drawing and Writing 2

Frankenthaler’s literary interests are well known, in fact given away by the title of one of her pictures, Seven Types of Ambiguity, also the title of a book by William Empson, one of the most widely read works of literary … Continue reading

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