Monday, 4 April 2011

Bite 84: Jackson Pollock - Autumn Rhythm (No. 30), 1950

Autumn Rhythm (No. 30), 1950, oil on canvas, 267 x 526 cm

The eye moves around the canvas as Pollock's body did, the canvas on the floor of his studio as opposed to against a gallery wall. I have often wondered what it would be like to view the canvas in this way, looking down on the work. It would be that much easier to reenact the artist's dance around the canvas, Pollock's enacted performance. Our body would be in relation to the work as his was.

None-the-less the eye can do this, retracing where the paints of different colours have been poured and dripped.

Black is dominant here, across the plain, while the white is more to the outside of the canvas appearing to begin and end near the top right (as we see it - but I wonder if Pollock indeed intends from the start for any canvas to be viewed any particular way, moving around it as he does).

Pollock is a painter to be experienced, not just seen. I sat before this monumental painting, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, for a while, letting its world enfold me, embracing the abstraction. The work is comfortable in a sense, aesthetically pleasing and interesting in the way a good pizza is - texture evening distributed.

I say this not to diminish the work but to praise it. Lacking compositional complexity - in the traditional sense - it is easier to be in it. 

This is painting as painting - the ultimate goal of the programme of abstraction.