Jackson Pollock - Action Painter

Also known as "Jack the Dripper", Pollock created works of great complexity and sensitivity using a working technique that traditional critics considered absurd and uncontrolled. However, looking at the detail of "Fathom-five" at the right reveals to the viewer the clarity and design of Pollock's work. Seen either up-close or from a distance, Pollock's works are impressive, especially considering the speed of his work and the tools he used such as sticks and paint stirrers. Jackson Pollock expressed ideas and emotions with the pure elements of art: color, shape, texture, and line. He used rhythm, unity & variety, emphasis/focal point, and scale as the primary principles of his designs. "Fathom-five" expresses in a very abstracted, perhaps non-objective, manner the depths of the ocean five fathoms below the surface. Perhaps symbolically, Pollock communicates the depth of human thought and the subconscious - or the hidden depths of meaning that can be expressed by an artist to an astutely observant viewer.

Can you "fathom" Pollock? Visit the Pollock site below for more of his works, biography, and commentary/criticism.

Links to the World of Art

The French Ministry of Culture
Louvre Museum in Paris
First Impressionists' shocking exhibit
Considered shameful to the 1874 art world in Paris
Jackson Pollock, Abstract Expressionist
Jackson Pollock
Museum of Modern Art in New York
Public Broadcasting's Links on FLW
Frank Lloyd Wright and Architecture

Analyzing the (often) confusing world of Modern Art (see page 538 in text for bio on Pollock)...

Form   and   Content

How on earth can a viewer of art begin to understand a work such as "Fathom-five"? Titles can provide clues - as is the case for this painting. But often such clues can be either incomplete or misleading. It is important to learn a bit about an artist, a culture, or a time period before dismissing a work as "meaningless". Perhaps the artist is more interested in "form" than in "content". Perhaps "form" is the "content" when artists are experimenting with the elements and principles of art. Artists may work intuitively as Pollock did and then title a painting at a later date. Maybe an artist is able to learn about himself/herself through experimenting - just as a writer does when scribbling in a diary or journal. In Pollock's "Action Painting", a veritable burst of energy seems to emanate from the canvas. Perhaps that energy was part of the content of the work. It is certainly the factor that communicates itself most strongly to viewers almost 50 years after the work was created. Energy, confusion, complexity, subconscious thoughts not yet evident to the artist himself - could these be the "content" of some of the works that so confuse and intimidate viewers? It seems that the times of most radical change in human history have elicited the most radical and problematic works of art. The Atomic Age, Pollock, the other Abstract Expressionists all exploded onto the world scene in the late 1940's. Art is the mirror of life - sometimes even when the art image is unrecognizable!

Welcome to Art Appreciation Class!

In the 21st century what will "ART" be? How will people and cultures make art and relate to it? What will artists be like? Will we all be artists? Let's begin to ask some in-depth questions about art in general and certain works and artists in particular. The first few chapters of the text relate to generalities about art that are essential to an understanding and appreciation of art. Visit this website often and pay attention to the videos and links you will see during the course.

I hope that you will enjoy learning about art and making some art during this term.

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