If the thoughts, dreams, and secrets of your mind exploded right now, what would they look like? I’d want mine to look like this painting by Jackson Pollock, called Lavender Mist. This is one of the reasons I wanted it to be on my blog banner.
Now, you might be thinking, “I could paint this! What’s the big deal?” And you wouldn’t be the first. Abstract Expressionism (the name of this art movement) has gotten a lot of crap not only from the public, but from the art world as well. And if that’s how you feel, well…I can’t make you like Pollock, but I can tell you a little bit about him; maybe you’ll find him a bit more interesting after this blog post.
Pollock is the most famous of the Abstract Expressionists. If you look at this painting, you might think that it’s just a random jotting of paint requiring the skill of a preschooler and little or no thought. The truth is, a Pollock painting did not come into being until after weeks, often months, of thought and work. The Abstract Expressionists were all about being true to their own felt experience in the process of painting; the painting was to reflect the artist’s own experience and humanity. Pollock said, “I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them.”
Really, what you’re seeing isn’t really a flat painting at all; it’s an event. Pollock is freeing lines from their function of representing things and bounding figures, wrote art critic Michael Fried. The painting doesn’t end nicely at the edges, but goes into all directions indefinitely and refuses to accept the artificiality of an ending. Besides the lateral extension, the painting also comes forward, like a cloud or tumbleweed of colors. If you’ve ever seen a massive Pollock in a museum, you’ll notice that the painting comes into the room toward you. The “event” is then something that we participate in, instead of just observing.
Interesting, right?! This painting is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Make sure you say hi to it next time you're there...it's a big deal.