Jackson Pollock: New Approaches

Overview

Based on a symposium held in 1999 during The Museum of Modern Art's retrospective, this volume presents nine critical essays offering dramatically different ways of understanding Pollock's art and influence. The essays reveal not just the richness of Pollock's work, but also the vitality and diversity of contemporary criticism. The essays were written by Robert Storr, Pepe Karmel, James Coddington and Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, Kirk Varnedoe, T. J. Clark, Jeremy Lewison, Rosalind ...
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Overview

Based on a symposium held in 1999 during The Museum of Modern Art's retrospective, this volume presents nine critical essays offering dramatically different ways of understanding Pollock's art and influence. The essays reveal not just the richness of Pollock's work, but also the vitality and diversity of contemporary criticism. The essays were written by Robert Storr, Pepe Karmel, James Coddington and Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, Kirk Varnedoe, T. J. Clark, Jeremy Lewison, Rosalind Krauss, and Anne Wagner.
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Editorial Reviews

Michael Kimmelman
The following is a review of the Jackson Pollock retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York:

...The retrospective, a landmark, is nearly perfect. Restraint is pointless. If you care about art you live for exhibitions like this, in which an artist, against the heavy odds of his own skewed talent and unhinged personality, pursued something so wild, untested and mysterious that its full meaning was unclear even to him, yet who briefly wrung from his peculiar system of painting one variation after another.

This is perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the retrospective, which Kirk Varnedoe has organized with Pete Karmel: bringing together so many different pictures from Pollack's glory years, they prove how little the drip paintings conform to any single description (starting with the word drip) and how much they demand to be regarded closely, anew, one by one--which is what exhibitions are for. It's funny how an old-fashioned formalist re-examination of the art can seem like a fresh approach after all the psychobabble and cold war conspiracy theorizing and pop social analysis that has dominated Pollock studies for years....

His biggest triumphs are, of course, the classic paintings from 1950: 'Autumn Rhythm,' 'No. 32,' and 'One.' They are hung together here so you can scan them by swiveling your head 180 degrees. It's an amazing sight. Standing a few feet away from them, I had the odd and slightly dizzying feeling of staring up into the sky....

Nothing in art since then, not Pop or Minimalism or anything else, is as radical and audacious. It doesn't matter that other artists dripped paint before Pollock; they didn't make of it what he did. To play C-E-G on a piano is not to compose a Mozart sonata. Pollock's paintings remain the central story of modern art in the second half of the century, above all because they gave permission to all other artists to break the rules.

...Pollock didn't come out of nowhere, but he was a quintessential American because of his aspiration to make something from what seemed like nothing. Having said more than he knew with his drip paintings, he clearly didn't know what else to say at the end of his life.

In retrospect, he had already, of course, said more than enough. -- The New York Times

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
...Pollock's...paintings seem with the passage of time increasingly classic.
The New York Times
Evelyn Toynton
...[A]n original contribution to Pollock scholarship...[Analyzes] the techniques he used to produce the poured paintings....far from being abstract, they may be the most concrete paintings ever made.
The New York Times Book Review
Jeanne Siegel
There was a lot to absorb in this exhibition that relates to the face-off between figuration and abstraction, process, scale, the play of space, tactility, consistency, beauty, the abject, progress, and innovation, to say nothing of the continued viability of painting itself.
Art Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781854372758
  • Publisher: Tate Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 1/1/1998
  • Pages: 336

Meet the Author

Jackson Pollock is widely considered the most challenging and influential American artist of the 20th century. In his revolutionary paintings of the late 1940s, he dripped paint into complex webs of interlacing lines, rhythmically punctuated by pools of color. With their all-over composition, apparent abstraction and spontaneous but controlled paint handling, these powerful works announced the emergence of abstract expressionism.

Kirk Varnedoe, formerly chief curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, is professor of historical studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University.

Robert Storr is a curator, artist and critic who is the Dean of the Art School at Yale University. Among his many books is Modern Despite Modernism.

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Table of Contents

Trustees of The Museum of Modern Art 6
Introduction: Pollock and The Museum of Modern Art 8
Pollock's Smallness 15
A Piece of the Action 33
A Sum of Destructions 71
No Chaos Damn it 101
Jackson Pollock: Response as Dialogue 117
Plates 121
The Crisis of the Easel Picture 155
Pollock's Nature, Frankenthaler's Culture 181
Jackson Pollock and the Americanization of Europe 201
Open-Ended Conclusions about Jackson Pollock 233
Index 246
Acknowledgments 248
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