Admiring Jackson Pollock's controlled chaos

Exhibition at Tate Liverpool showcases later works of American abstract expressionist artist who died in 1956 aged 44.


    The famous drip paintings come first so you know you're in the right place.

    The classic Jackson Pollock images - a canvas completely covered with a lattice of enamel paint, a carefully controlled chaos resulting in a beautiful composition.

    Among the works on show at Tate Liverpool there's "Tiger," still unframed, on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, and insured for $140m.

    Pollock is considered one of the great American painters, a founder of abstract expressionism and a pioneer of action painting.

    There was no sitting quietly admiring a daub here or there at an easel; Pollock threw paint at the canvas, lying on the ground, channelling his unconscious and letting chance do its part.

    "He invented action painting and if you do it first you get into the history books," says Karen Taylor, a London-based art adviser.

    After the first room, the majority of the show is devoted to Pollock’s later and lesser known works: The black paintings or pourings.

    The monochromatic works were a radical departure for Pollock and weren’t liked by critics, nor did they sell well when they were first shown in New York in 1951.

    Pollock’s output slowed as his alcoholism worsened and he died while drunk driving in 1956 at age of 44 [Al Jazeera]

    The artist used sticks and basting syringes to apply black enamel paint on unprimed canvasses.

    A total of 37 paintings from this period exist and Tate Liverpool has managed to bring together 20 of them.

    "Some have never been seen before in Europe," said Gavin Delahunty, a curator at the Dallas Museum of Art where the show will go in November.

    Delahunty said it wasn't easy organising Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots. It required considerable charm to persuade museums and private collectors to part with their pictures, even temporarily.

    "If you have one of those works in your collection it's really a centrifugal point where a collection can develop and grow because a lot of the roads in Modern Art lead back to Jackson Pollock," he said.

    And beyond having a blank space on the wall, many of the Pollock works are fragile. Sixty years on the enamel paint has dried and cracked. Few are willing to risk their expensive pieces.

    It's no surprise the works are so cherished; there are very few of them and most are held in museums.

    Pollock’s output slowed as his alcoholism worsened and he died while drunk driving in 1956 at age 44.

    The show, which includes a number of works on paper and prints from the same period, 1951-53, runs through October 18.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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