Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bite 55: Jackson Pollock - Full Fathom Five, 1947

Full Fathom Five, 1947, oil on canvas with nails, buttons, key, coins, cigarettes, etc., 129 x 76 cm 
"Imagine a man brought up from birth in a white cell so that he has never seen anything except the growth of his own body. And then imagine that suddenly he is given some sticks and bright paints. If he were a man with an innate sense of balance and colour harmony, he would then, I think, cover the white walls of his cell as Pollock has painted his canvases. He would want to express his ideas and feelings about growth, time, energy, death, but he would lack any vocabulary of seen or remembered visual images with which to do so. He would have nothing more than the gestures he could discover through the act of applying his coloured marks to his white walls. These gestures might be passionate and frenzied but to us they could mean no more than the spectacle of a deaf mute trying to talk."
                                                                                      - John Berger, 1958

In the collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

John Berger, Selected Essays, (ed. Geoff Dyer), Vintage, 2001.