Saturday 25 July 2015

Review of Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots at Tate Liverpool

Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots
Tate Liverpool
30 June – 18 October 2015

In autumn 1950, on the evening that photographer Hans Namuth finished shooting his second short film of Jackson Pollock (1912-56) working in his Long Island studio, and after two years’ abstinence, the artist, best known for his drip paintings, picked up the bottle again. That same year, Pollock visited the exhibition Black or White Paintings by European and American Artists at the Kootz Gallery, New York, which included works by Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell and Joan Miró. He probably also saw the exhibition of black and white paintings by Franz Kline at the Charles Egan Gallery. What happened next might, therefore, not come as such a great surprise: in a period of great personal blackness, and in an artistic context where monochromatic studies were de rigueur, Pollock, too, turned to working solely in black. The following year, between May and September, he produced 28 such paintings, with 16 more in 1952 and a further – and final – 10 in 1953. Robert Goodnough may have favourably described Number 32 1950, the first black painting, as showing “open black rhythms … dance in disturbing degrees of intensity, ecstatically energising the powerful image in an almost hypnotic way”, but not everyone shared his good opinion.

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