Pollock, Jackson: Action painting
Pollock was the first ``all-over'' painter, pouring paint rather than using brushes and a palette, and abandoning all conventions of a central motif. He danced in semi-ecstasy over canvases spread across the floor, lost in his patternings, dripping and dribbling with total control. He said: ``The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.'' He painted no image, just ``action'', though ``action painting'' seems an inadequate term for the finished result of his creative process. Lavender Mist is 3 m long (nearly 10 ft), a vast expanse on a heroic scale. It is alive with colored scribble, spattered lines moving this way and that, now thickening, now trailing off to a slender skein. The eye is kept continually eager, not allowed to rest on any particular area. Pollock has put his hands into paint and placed them at the top right-- an instinctive gesture eerily reminiscent of cave painters who did the same. The overall tone is a pale lavender, maide airy and active. At the time Pollock was heiled as the greatest American painter, but there are already those who feel his work is not holding up in every respect.
Lee Krasner (1908-84), who married Pollock in 1944, was not celebrated at all during his lifetime (cut short in 1956 by a fatal car crash), but it was actually she who first started covering the canvas with a passionate flurry of marks. The originality of her vision, its stiff integrity and its great sense of internal cohesion, is now beginning to be recognized. Cobalt Night (1962; 237 x 401 cm (7 ft 9 1/3 x 13 ft 2 in)) at 4 m (over 13 ft) is even larger than Lavender Mist and has the same kind of heroic ambition.
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