Jackson Pollock’s No. 5 1948


Harold Rosenberg seems to describe perfectly the spirit of Jackson Pollack’s artworks in his essay, “The American Action Painters” from Tradition of the New.

Rosenberg declared, “What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event. The painter no longer approached his easel with an image in his mind; he went up to it with material in his hand to do something to that other piece of material in front of him. The image would be the result of this encounter.” Pollock’s painting style was very spontaneous and his work clearly reflects that. There is no focus nor subject in No. 5 1948 except for the colors and texture. The result of its spontaneity is complete nonconformity; no brush stroke mimics the other. No. 5 1948 is comparable to the visual equivalent of white noise. When examined, the strokes and methods of Pollock become very apparent and conscious to the viewer with the critical eye.

In his essay Avant-Garde and Kitsch, Clement Greenberg describes Pollock’s work well. “Hence it developed that the true and most important function of the avant-garde was not to "experiment," but to find a path along which it would be possible to keep culture moving in the midst of ideological confusion and violence.” What more is No. 5 1948 than ideological confusion and violence? Complete freedom and liberty ring in the key of anarchy. A certain purity exists in Pollock’s No. 5, as its style is not confined to a subject matter and is clearly avoided, an ostensible fact given by the very objective title.


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