Monday, March 14, 2016

Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots by Gavin Delahunty

With only a week to spare, friends and I finally saw the exhibit Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots at the Dallas Museum of Art.

It was well worth having to suffer Dallas traffic.*

The exhibition at the DMA is the only U.S. venue to show this rare and unique assemblage of black paintings Pollock produced in the period 1951-1953. These black paintings represent a stark contrast to his signature all-over paintings from the decade of the 1940's.

The expert commentary in the catalog delves into what Pollock was attempting to express with this new style, whom may have influenced it, and where he might have taken it had he not died in 1956.

The art speaks for itself. But that won't stop me from expressing a non-expert opinion. Pollock's use of black was always there, even in the famous all-over paintings. In those works he was able to use line as shape through density and layering. (I would attempt to analogize them with a fractal, a space-filling curve.) The black paintings seem to be a way of removing the veil of color from the all-over paintings, retaining the black, and giving the black lines area and heft through thickness and pooling. The interaction of those "black spots" with the unpainted background, whether it be paper or canvas, raises the latter to the foreground and in some of the later black paintings Pollock filled the grounded areas with color.

Let's start with photos of the black paintings. (And trust me, I was surprised that non-flash photography was permitted.)

Unlike Cathedral below, this work is brassy and reminded me strongly of Clyfford Still's work.

This beautiful trio was tucked in a corner and seemed to me totally under appreciated. 
And now for some of Pollock's more well-known all-over paintings. These, I must admit, I loved more than the black paintings. The latter are important historically and from the standpoint of learning about Pollock. But his all-over paintings are lush and raucous, energetic and calming, joyful and contemplative.

Cathedral, from the DMA's permanent collection, is stunning. 

*Fort Worth is where the west begins. Dallas is where the east peters out. I am waiting for one person in particular to give me grief about that comment.

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