For Pollock, the expression of his style was directed by "some type of mysterious, psychic force which seemed to take control of his hands and feet" 12 which may explain why some people have viewed his paintings as being accidental in nature, meaning that Pollock applied the paint without any sense of pattern or structure. This view is patently wrong, for after studying any of Pollock's paintings, it becomes clear that he did indeed possess a "madness to his method" when painting. As B.H. Friedman points out, "There is something of the mystical in Pollock's materials which motivates not only the painter but also the viewer. Perhaps it is the random fall and scatter of the paint which best express the sum of the work's overall artistic qualities." 13 number of Pollock's best works are not small in scale, for they are entire pieces of canvas stretching at times more than ten feet long and almost as wide. Thus, "the jarring dynamism of Pollock's large-scale paintings echoes the restless and perhaps rootless lifestyle of the post-war years while also expressing Pollock's philosophy of absolute freedom of choice in life and in art." 14 In his own words, Pollock justifies his highly radical painting style by stating that "The modern painter cannot express this age... In the old forms of the Renaissance or any other past culture," for he must reflect "not only the inner world of the unconscious but also the cultural experience of the time in which he lives." 15
An early example of Jackson Pollock's work can be found in his Lucifer (1947, oil, aluminum paint and enamel on canvas) which exhibits paint dragged, dripped and splattered from far above the floor in a process of excited movement which can be seen through the coherence of direction and pattern, at least in the eyes of a trained art expert. In this work, Pollock strived "for unplanned immediacy and directness and for an effect of unstudied spontaneous freshness," for according to Pollock, "It doesn't make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something had been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement." 16
Like many of his paintings, Pollock's Lucifer to the untrained eye appears to be nothing more than paint randomly dripped or splattered on the canvas, but upon closer inspection, this work has all the traits of a land map, similar in nature to a map showing a particular geographic area from a great height, in this case, a dense and heavily-vegetated forest with the dark areas representing bogs and swamps. As Ellen Landau sees it, Pollock's Lucifer "is an image that represents the process of the never-ending creation of nature." 17 Pollock the artist is truly in motion with a constantly changing viewpoint, much like "looking down and seeing his landscape unfold as one would see the earth from an airplane some 10,000 feet in the atmosphere." 18
Therefore, although this painting may appear strange and formless as if done by a chimpanzee, it reflects in reality new artistic forms of expression which mirror the marvelous complexities of the universe as see through a giant telescope and the infinite inner world revealed under the lens of a powerful electron microscope. In essence, Pollock's Lucifer reveals the endless and intricate relations between space and time via the entangled lines and the twisting of colors, a hodgepodge of cosmic birth and death.
One very important painting stands out above all others, namely, Pollock's Blue Poles, Number 11, rendered in 1952 and composed of aluminum and enamel paint mixed with pieces of glass on canvas and currently held at the National Gallery of Australia in Sydney. This work represents "Pollock's last monumental abstract painting" and is the last installment "in a series of works which have changed the course of modern art." Blue Poles also serves as the foundation for what one would call an "urban myth," for it has been suggested that this picture "began as a drunken collaboration between Pollock and other artists," due to its seemingly random and accidental application of paint. However, since Pollock firmly resisted utilizing almost all traditional methods of applying paint to a canvas, "preferring to pour, dribble, fling and pool paint onto the canvas," Blue Poles exhibits the greatness of Pollock's art via its "staggering and incredibly beautiful" images. 19
Blue Poles also exhibits many personal traits of Pollock himself, meaning that "through his liberated use of materials, he was free of constraints on his own individuality," both artistically and socially. Pollock's liberation as a painter extended to "not entirely planning in advance what he was going to do," for he once said, "I don't work from drawings. I don't make sketches...into a final painting. When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing, (and) it is only after a short 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about," 20 a reference to the earlier-mentioned mystical spirit that seems to have moved Pollock to create such mind-blowing masterpieces of modern art.
In conclusion, when viewing any of Pollock's "arrangements," be it Lucifer or Blue Poles, one gains a sense that Pollock had the uncanny ability to find order out of disorder, for as an effect of the materials he utilized to create his amazing paintings, it is abundantly clear that his paintings "embody a recurrent theme in contemporary America -- that of modern man as 'the helpless prey of forces both within and without himself." In essence, Jackson Pollock "allowed his materials to speak their own language" and fervently believed and practiced the ideal that art, under all circumstances and conditions, must express "a life of its own." 21
Friedman, B.H. Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1972, 56.
NY: Wonderland Press, 1986, 156.
Landau, Ellen. Jackson Pollock: NY: Harry N. Abrams, 1998, 173.
Cernuschi, Claude. Jackson Pollock: Meaning and Significance. NY: Westview Press, 1991, 183.
"Jackson Pollock: Before Blue Poles." Internet.
10 Ibid, Internet.
11 Ibid, Internet.
12 Spring, 214.
14 Cernuschi, 245.
15 White, "Jackson Pollock: Before Blue Poles," Internet.
16 Spring, The Essential Jackson Pollock, 246.
18 Ibid, 244.
19 White, Internet.
20 Ibid, Internet.
21 Ibid, Internet.
Cernuschi, Claude. Jackson Pollock: Meaning and Significance. New York: Westview Press,