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Do you think Jackson Pollock’s work had a positive impact on developments in American art?
I have to admit that as often as I have heard or read the name Jackson Pollock, I had never knowingly seen any of his work. My first real introduction to his work came recently during the virtual museum assignment. During my virtual visit to The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC (http://www.nga.gov), I watched a video documentary of Jackson Pollack. The video documented Jackson Pollock while painting outdoors using house paints, sticks and a rather large canvas laid out on the ground. After watching the video, it is no wonder to me that a critic from Time magazine once dubbed him “Jack The Dripper” or that an Italian writer, around the same time, had described his work as having a “total absence of technique” and “chaos”. Both of these critiques seem rather suitable in my humble opinion. His work is akin to something one might expect to find hanging in the lobby of a cheap motel.
Being that I was not a particular fan of Jackson Pollock’s works, I was really surprised when I was introduced to the incredible works of one of his early mentors Thomas Hart Benton. I was particularly drawn to his painting “The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley”. Benton’s then young apprentice Pollock is represented in the lower foreground of the painting as the young man playing a harmonica. As drawn as I am to Thomas Benton’s paintings, I have to wonder how Jackson Pollock came to the technique, or lack of technique, and style that has become synonymous with his name.
The importance of Jackson Pollock’s works lie in the fact that he was one of few artists who truly tested the boundaries of what is perceived as art. After all, what qualifies something as art? Through his own admission, his technique was merely a means to making a statement and simply because others or I may not identify with his works, should not discredit them as works of art. Art much like beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Jackson Pollock’s painting if nothing else, demonstrates this point through visual example. If artists were to lose the willingness to create for fear of how others might perceive their works, where would the world of art be today? As much as I dislike his actual paintings, I have to respect his willingness to leave the comfortable world of conformity in an effort to create outside of the box and test the very boundaries of what is art. It is for this reason; I believe that Jackson Pollock had an overall positive influence on the development of American art.