Monday, November 20, 2017

Tumble into Jackson Pollock


           The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC owns my favorite painting by the mid-20th century American painter, Jackson Pollock, called Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist). So the gallery is the natural venue for Pollock’s largest painting as well, Mural, currently on loan from the University of Iowa Museum of Art.
       Originally painted for the foyer of Pollock’s patron, heiress and gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim, in 1943, it is 20 captivating feet of canvas writhing with bright colors and thick, lavish brush strokes as much in the manner of Pollock’s contemporary, Willem de Kooning, as in that usually associated with Pollock himself. In the painting people find all sorts of things - rising spirits, initials, even spermatozoa.
  So the East Wing’s lovely top floor gallery is a good place to see firsthand all the changes in Pollock’s style, including the final one in his life in which he squirted back paint onto raw canvas with a turkey baster. But despite these forceful images, and Mural's size, it is still Lavender Mist that most powerfully draws the eye to its concentration of seemingly random color drizzles.
       The now-famous technique created separate levels of reality and carries the receptive viewer to incredible depths. Lavender Mist remains emblematic of Pollock’s burst of genius in the early fifties, when the influential critic Clement Greenberg suggested the title. This seems, in retrospect, a too-flip choice (there is no lavender in Lavender Mist), but go judge for yourself.                                 

No comments:

Post a Comment