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
Alberto Giacometti, Walking Man, 1960.











Painted horizontally, on the floor
Pollock working
Used "everyday" 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 becomes the painting's subject
Jackson Pollock at work, 1950
"He transformed the obligation for social relevance, a pervasive current between the wars, into an unrelenting moral commitment to a search for the self." - JonathanFineberg











"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

Construction with Boiled Beans

Autumn rhythm

Salvador Dali, Consruction with Boiled Beans, 1936.
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.












Image Surfacing

Hans Hofmann, Bachanale, 1946.
Lee Krasner, Image Surfacing, c. 1945.
Highest praise given to Krasner by Hofmann:
"This painting is so good you'd never know it was done by a woman."












Lee Krasner, Noon, 1947.











Stills from the film Jackson Pollock

Hans Namuth and Paul Falkenberg, Stills from the film, Jackson Pollock. 1951.











Lee Krasner, Birth, 1956. 83 X 48 inches.











Easter Lillies

Lee Krasner, Easter Lilies, 1956. Oil on cotton duck, 48 1/4 X 60 1/2 inches.











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
the world and life are essentially meaningless, therefore it is up to each individual to give themselves meaning
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
Alberto Giacometti, Man Pointing, 1947.











The Calendars
The Last Painting

Arshile Gorky, The Calendars, 1946 - 1947.

Arshile Gorky, The Last Painting, 1948.