5 of Our Favorite Jackson Pollock Paintings
The Legacy of Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock made an extraordinary impact on modern art, creating paintings that were just as controversial as they were revolutionary. He quickly became known for his splatter-style paintings, which challenged ideas about what critically acclaimed art should look like.
The splatter method allowed Pollock to entertain new possibilities with the textures and dimensions of his paintings, often using household paints and basting syringes in his work. While his unique method was seen as simplistic and haphazard to some, many found it to be revolutionary within the world of modern art. Fans have often interpreted Pollock’s paintings as energetic, musical, and evocative of the human mind.
Pollock gained commercial success when he was featured as a pop-culture figure in prominent magazines. Life magazine wrote an article that launched Pollock into the public eye, titled “Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” His subsequent fame resulted in even more controversy about the quality of his paintings. The heightened public scrutiny that Pollock faced caused him to recoil from his splatter method, transitioning to a darker color scheme.
Art and fashion converged when Cecil Beaton, a legendary British photographer, captured models adorned in haute couture in front of Pollock’s work for Vogue magazine. The bold textures of the Jackson Pollock painting placed behind the sleek, feminine model demonstrated the duality of these photos. Their popularity catapulted modern art into the commercial sector, changing the way that the public viewed fashion and art in combination.
Pollock was often praised for breaking away from European traditions and spearheading a new style of American painting. This photo spread strengthened Pollock’s image in the public eye as a pioneer of American abstract art.
Throughout his life, Pollock struggled with severe alcoholism and much of his internal turmoil can be seen in his paintings. While he experienced many difficulties in his personal life, in 1945 he went on to marry renowned artist Lee Krasner. Krasner was an esteemed artist long before marrying Pollock, known for her variety of talents ranging from collage to large-scale abstract painting. The two settled down in East Hampton, providing the stability that Pollock needed to focus on his work.
Pollock’s legacy is one of radical abstraction and rebellion from tradition. His splatter technique has since been adopted by many painters and has influenced the progression of abstract painting. The juxtaposition of the troubles he faced in his personal life and his magnificent paintings is demonstrative of the persistence of his legendary creative spirit.
Often considered one of Pollock’s most exceptional paintings, Convergence exemplifies the political turmoil and restlessness of the United States at the time. When seen in person, one can appreciate the enormous nature of this painting, measuring 93.5 inches by 155 inches. Its impressive size came at a cost, as Pollock had to painstakingly fling each strand of paint onto it from above.
When this painting was created in 1952, America was extremely fearful of Communism and the Cold War with Russia. Using his splatter method, Pollock began this painting using exclusively black and white paints, later adding vibrant colors to evoke American freedom and rebellion. This painting became a symbol of self expression and courage for the American people while they navigated a time of uncertainty.
#2. Eyes in the Heat
In 1945 Pollock moved from New York City to East Hampton, trading his bustling city life for a closer connection to nature. This transition is seen in the series of paintings that he subsequently created titled, Sounds in the Grass. The shining star of this series, Eyes in the Heat, has been praised as one of Pollock’s most extraordinary pieces. When creating this painting, Pollock opted to squeeze the paint onto the canvas directly from the tube rather than apply it with a paint brush. He then used various tools to smudge and guide the paint, creating eye-catching textures and depth. Differing from many of his earlier paintings, Eyes in the Heat focuses on a light color palette and themes emblematic of nature. These stylistic changes reflect the personal transition that Pollock was going through as he began to settle down in the country.
#3. Moon Woman
Pollock drew inspiration from other prolific abstract artists at the time, such as Picasso and Joan Miro. These influences are seen particularly clearly in the Jackson Pollock painting Moon Woman. While creating this painting, Pollock was inspired by mythic and surrealist concepts. The mystical woman in the painting has two sides, light and dark. It is assumed that this dichotomy represents a bright external side and a dark internal landscape. He creates vibrant duality by systematically placing black streaks beside bold colors. This helps lead the viewer’s eye around the painting, noticing the drastic variation present in the woman’s figure. The dramatic shapes and angles that adorn this painting bring it energy and complexity. Here we can see Pollock’s painting style changing as he begins to incorporate trends used by other innovative abstract artists.
#4. Enchanted Forest
Pollock often used his energetic painting style to symbolize music and dance, as demonstrated in his 1947 masterpiece, Enchanted Forest. This painting beautifully embodies components of a symphony, featuring rhythmic strokes and sweeping lines. Pollock focused on a refined color palette when creating this painting, exclusively using gold, black, red, and white. His use of dramatic splashes of paint and flowing lines encourages the viewer to embrace the rhythm and musicality of the piece.
During this time, Pollock’s splatter method was actively gaining public attention. This painting epitomizes Pollock’s famed method, incorporating unique tools and textures to communicate with the audience. Often criticized for the randomness of his paintings, Pollock demonstrates his intentionality of his paintings by leaving large white spaces. These patches of white space clarify each of his strokes and guide the viewer’s eye around the painting.
#5. Sea Change
Similar to Enchanted Forest, Sea Change perfectly encapsulates the deliberate nature of Pollock’s work. He began this painting in 1946, using a traditional paint brush to marry delicate shades of blue and pink. He later returned to Sea Change, drizzling black paint and rocky materials atop the canvas, incorporating bold new textures. The two-step process of this painting is demonstrative of Pollock’s changing ideas about the way that he wanted this painting to appear. When looked at closely, one can appreciate the Sea Change’s bold textures, from the thickly drizzled house paint to the tiny bits of gravel. While many still consider Pollock’s paintings to be overrated and haphazard, Sea Change emphasizes his relentless intentionality.
These paintings are symbolic of Pollock’s turbulent life, showing the ways that his artistic style changed in tandem with his personal life. There is no denying that he left behind a legacy of rebellion and radical creativity. This legacy has gone on to influence the work of countless artists, encouraging them to break free from the traditional bounds of modern art.