Number 8 {The Story of Art}

Number 8. Jackson Pollock. 1949.

“[I]n the past, an artist’s handling of paint, the energy of his brushstrokes or the subtlety of his touch, had been prized, but generally in the larger context of the effect thus achieved… Here then was an aspect of painting that still appeared to be unexplored—the sheer handling of paint regardless of any ulterior motive or purpose… Most of all it was the American artist Jackson Pollock who aroused interest with his novel ways of applying paint… Becoming impatient of conventional methods, he put his canvas on the floor and dripped, poured or threw his paint to form surprising configurations… The resulting tangle of lines satisfies two opposing standards of twentieth-century art: the longing for childlike simplicity and spontaneity that evokes the memory of childish scrawls at the time of life before children even start to form images and, at the opposite end, the sophisticated interest in the problems of ‘pure painting.’”

Ernst H. Gombrich, “Chapter 28: The Triumph of Modernism,” The Story of Art, 15th edition