Existential Angst
Walking Man
"We felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a world devastated by a great depression and a fierce World War, and it was impossible at that time to paint the kind of painting that we were doing - flowers, reclining nudes, and people playing the cello. At the same time we could not move into the situation of a pure world of unorganized shapes and forms, or color relations, a world of sensation. And I would say that, for some of us, this was our moral crisis in relation to what to paint. So that we actually began, so to speak, from scratch, as if painting were not only dead but had never existed." - Barnett Newman
Reminder! Exam 1 must be submitted tonight by 11:59 PM!
Dr. Guisela Latorre
Richard Lou's Border Door: Activist Aesthetics and Decolonial Engagements
September 25, AF 201 at 7 PM
Alberto Giacometti, Walking Man, 1960.











Going West
Thomas Hart Benton, unknown title and date.

Jackson Pollock, Going West, c. 1934 - 1935.











"The most powerful painter in contemporary America and the only one who promises to be a major one is a Gothic, morbid, and extreme disciple of Picasso's Cubism and Miró's post-Cubism, tinctured also with Kandinsky and surrealist inspiration. His name is Jackson Pollock." - Clement Greenberg in 1947


August 8, 1949 issue of Life Magazine









Pollock in front of blank canvas

Pollock standing in front of blank canvas for Mural











"Every so often, a painter has to destroy painting. Cezanne did it, Picasso did it with Cubism. Then Pollock did it.
He busted our idea of a picture all to hell. Then there could be new paintings again." - Willem De Kooning



Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943. 8' X 19'.











Peggy Guggenheim with Jackson Pollock standing in front of Mural with her dogs, 1943.











Number 1

Jackson Pollock, Number 1, 1949.











What's so innovative about Jackson Pollock's drip paintings?
  • Painted horizontally, on the floor
Pollock working
  • Used house paint and sticks instead of traditional artist's materials
  • Works intuitively with an automatist technique
automatism = technique whereby the usual intellectual control of the artist over the brush is foregone. The artist's aim is to allow the subconscious to create the artwork without rational reference.
  • Considers space in a completely new way
  • Rejects Renaissance perspective
  • All-over composition
  • Painted gestures move across the picture plane instead of attempting the illusion of moving through it
  • The painter painting becomes the painting's subject
"He transformed the obligation for social relevance, a pervasive current between the wars, into an unrelenting moral commitment to a search for the self." - Jonathan Fineberg
Jackson Pollock at work, 1950











Pollock's and Krasner's barn studio floor, preserved





















"My opinion is that new needs need new techniques…the modern painter cannot express his age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio in the old forms of the Renaissance…the modern artist is living in a mechanical age…working and expressing an inner world - in other words, expressing the energy, the motion, and other inner forces." - Jackson Pollock

Autumn rhythm

Pablo Picasso, The Women of Algiers, 1955.
Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950.











Pollock and Krasner in the studio

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in the studio, 1949.











The Third Hand

Hans Hofmann:
"You don't work from nature.  You work by heart. This is no good.  You will repeat yourself."
Jackson Pollock: 
"I am nature... Put up or shut up.  Your theories don't interest me."
Hans Hofmann, The Third Hand, 1947.











Highest praise given to Krasner by Hofmann:
"This painting is so good you'd never know it was done by a woman."


Image Surfacing

Hans Hofmann, Bachanale, 1946.
Lee Krasner, Image Surfacing, c. 1945.











In 2004, Image Surfacing sold at auction for $153,000.
In 2006, David Geffen sold Pollock's No. 5 to David Martinez in a private sale, for $140 million, making it the most expensive work of art at the time.

Image Surfacing

Lee Krasner, Image Surfacing, c. 1945.
Jackson Pollock, No. 5, 1948.











Lee Krasner, Shattered Color, 1947.
Lee Krasner, Mosaic, 1947.











Hans Namuth, Jackson Pollock, 1950.











Lee Krasner, The City, 1953. 48 X 36 inches
Lee Krasner, Birth, 1956. 83 X 48 inches.











Lee Krasner, The Seasons, 1957. 7 3/4' X 17'.











Existentialism and the New York School

Man Pointing

existentialism = a 20th century philosophy that is centered upon the analysis of existence and of the way man finds himself existing in the world, the regards human existence as not exhaustively describabble or understandable in scientific terms, and that stresses the freedom and responsibility of the individual
Factors that bred Existential approaches:
  • The world wars were horrific, depraved and absurd
  • Many countries reckoning with their participation and denial of
    the horrors of the Nazi agenda
  • Sense that religion had failed to heal society's wounds
  • Amidst this lack of reason and order, the only thing a person could surely know was their self
  • the world and life are essentially meaningless, therefore it is up to each individual to give themselves meaning
Alberto Giacometti, Man Pointing, 1947.











The Calendars

Arshile Gorky, The Calendars, 1946 - 1947.

Arshile Gorky, The Last Painting, 1948.











Life with Gorky, featuring "Mougouch"