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Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement.

It was the first

specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and put New York City at
the center of the art world, a role formerly filled by Paris.

Although the term "abstract expressionism" was first applied to American art in 1946 by the
art critic Robert Coates, it had been first used in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturm,
regarding German Expressionism. In the USA, Alfred Barr was the first to use this term in
1929 in relation to works by Wassily Kandinsky.[1]

Technically, an important predecessor is surrealism, with its emphasis on spontaneous,

automatic or subconscious creation. Jackson Pollock's dripping paint onto a canvas laid on the
floor is a technique that has its roots in the work of Max Ernst. Abstract expressionism has
many stylistic similarities to the Russian artists of the early twentieth century such as Wassily
Kandinsky. Although it is true that spontaneity or the impression of spontaneity characterized
many of the abstract expressionists works, most of these paintings involved careful planning,
especially since their large size demanded it

The 1940s in New York City heralded the triumph of American Abstract expressionism, a
modernist movement that combined lessons learned from Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso,
Surrealism, Joan Miró, Cubism, Fauvism, and early Modernism

[edit] Pollock and Abstract influences

During the late 1940s Jackson Pollock's radical approach to painting revolutionized the
potential for all Contemporary art that followed him. To some extent Pollock realized that the
journey toward making a work of art was as important as the work of art itself. Like Pablo
Picasso's innovative reinventions of painting and sculpture near the turn of the century via
Cubism and constructed sculpture, Pollock redefined what it was to produce art. His move
away from easel painting and conventionality was a liberating signal to the artists of his era
and to all that came after. Artists realized that Jackson Pollock's process—the placing of
unstretched raw canvas on the floor where it could be attacked from all four sides using artist
materials and industrial materials; linear skeins of paint dripped and thrown; drawing,
staining, brushing; imagery and non-imagery—essentially blasted artmaking beyond any prior
boundary. Abstract expressionism in general expanded and developed the definitions and
possibilities that artists had available for the creation of new works of art.

The other Abstract expressionists followed Pollock's breakthrough with new breakthroughs of
their own. In a sense the innovations of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline,
Mark Rothko, Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt,
Richard Pousette-Dart, Robert Motherwell, Peter Voulkos and others opened the floodgates to
the diversity and scope of all the art that followed them. Rereadings into abstract art, done by
art historians such as Linda Nochlin,[15] Griselda Pollock [16] and Catherine de Zegher [17]
critically shows, however, that pioneer women artists who have produced major innovations
in modern art had been ignored by the official accounts of its history.

The style was widespread from the 1940s until the early 1960s, and is closely associated with
abstract expressionism (some critics have used the terms action painting and abstract
expressionism interchangeably). A comparison is often drawn between the American action
painting and the French tachisme.
The term was coined by the American critic Harold Rosenberg in 1952[18] and signaled a
major shift in the aesthetic perspective of New York School painters and critics. According to
Rosenberg the canvas was "an arena in which to act".

The following painting was created in 1950 by Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956), a
pioneer of what came to be called "action painting". The painting was originally called
"Number 1, 1950", but at the suggestion of an art critic named Clement Greenberg, the
painting was renamed "Lavender Mist" (although, there is actually no lavender in it).

"Lavender Mist" [1950] by Jackson Pollock.

Display a larger picture of this painting.

The name "action painting" was coined to describe the techniques used by Pollock. He
would fasten large canvases to the floor of his studio, and then drip, fling, and spill paint
on them. He often used regular house paint, because he preferred the way it flowed.
Now, I understand that the first time you look at a picture like "Lavender Mist" you may
see nothing more than a confusing array of disorganized lines and spots. "What," I hear
you say, "is this supposed to mean? How could anything so primitive and crude be
considered to be great art? It looks like something a bored kid would do if he was left
alone in an art studio with no supervision."
Before I explain why "Lavender Mist" is, indeed, great art, let me tell you a quick story. A
few years ago, I decided to visit Washington, D.C. by myself. It was the middle of winter,
and the city had been hit by a huge snowstorm. I was all alone, so I decided to walk to
the National Gallery of Art. The streets were virtually empty, and as I entered the
museum, I could see that it too was empty.
I asked the information person if they had anything by Jackson Pollock. She said yes, and
gave me directions to the room in which his paintings and drawings were hung. I had
heard of Pollock and seen photographs of his work, but I had never seen any of the
paintings in person.
I still remember the feeling I had when I descended the stairs, turned the corner, and
looked at the wall. I was alone in a large room and, there on the far wall, was "Lavender
Mist". The effect it had on me was completely unexpected. It was the only time in my life
when I can remember a painting, literally, taking my breath away. I know this will sound
a bit sappy, but seeing that painting changed me forever.
How could this be the case? You just looked at a picture of the same painting, and I
doubt you felt as if you had been changed forever.
First, I should explain that the actual canvas is large, nearly 10 feet (3 meters) long. It is
quite imposing when you see it in person, especially in a large empty room, where the
painting seems to reach out, grab you and pull you towards it.
Second, what you see in the picture above is nothing like the real thing. Not only is the
picture on your screen much smaller than the actual painting, but the colors you see on a
computer monitor are muted and inexact. Moreover, on a computer screen, you do not
get a sense of the texture of the paint and the canvas.
All of this you understand, I am sure. Everyone knows that viewing a real painting is a lot
different from looking at a picture of the painting on a computer monitor (or on a
projection screen in an art history class, for that matter).
However, there is another reason why I was so moved by "Lavender Mist", and it has to
do with the very purpose of art. To discuss this, we have to consider the question, Why
do we create art?
There are a number of straightforward reasons why human beings create art: to make a
decoration, to tell a story, to capture or preserve an image, or to illustrate an idea.
However, there is another, more subtle, but far more important reason why art is
important to us.
The need to reach inside ourselves and manipulate our unconscious feelings is universal.
We all do it to some degree, although most of the time we are blind to what we are
That is where art comes in. As I explained earlier, one of the purposes of art is to allow
us indirect access to our inner psyche. Great art affords a way to get in touch with the
unconscious part of our existence, even if we don't realize what we are doing. In this
sense, the role of the artist is to create something that, when viewed by an observer,
evokes unconscious feelings and emotions.
The reason abstract art has the potential to be so powerful is that it keeps the conscious
distractions to a minimum. When you look at, say, the apples and pears of Cézanne, your
mental energy mostly goes to processing the images: the fruit, the plate, the table, and
the background. However, when you look at "Lavender Mist", you are not distracted by
meaningful images, so virtually all of your brain power is devoted to feeling. You can
open yourself, let in the energy and spirit of the painting, and allow it to dance with your
Of course, this only works if you cooperate with the artist. His job is to create a painting
that is rendered so skillfully that, when you look at it, what you see actually changes
what you feel at an unconscious level. Your job is to clear your conscious mind of
thoughts and preconceptions in order to allow yourself to be influenced by what you are
seeing. This means that, if you are to truly appreciate a work of art, you must be willing
to let yourself go, to put yourself in the hands of the artist, so to speak, and let him take
you wherever he wants.
Much of the time, this partnership fails, sometimes because the artist is simply not skillful
enough; often because the person looking at the painting does not know how to truly
appreciate it.
Now you can see why the advent of Abstract Expressionism was so important. For the
first time in history, artists were creating abstract art so skillfully that it was able to
penetrate quickly and powerfully into people's subconscious (at least some people, some
of the time).
Thus, it is possible to view the history of painting as a long evolutionary process, starting
with the slow, labored development of tools and techniques. Eventually, after centuries of
representationalism, the Impressionists began to shake off the long- standing
restrictions, which led to the development of various schools of abstract art, culminating,
in the 1940s, with Abstract Expressionism, the beginning of a new age of creation and
human achievement.
I'd like to introduce to you a few of the Abstract Expressionists, painters whose work was
important to the evolutionary process that redefined what it meant to be an artist. One
thing that you will see is that work of these painters varies greatly. This is because, as I
have mentioned, Abstract Expressionism is not so much a school of painting as a way of
approaching and experiencing the act of creation

Action painting

Pollock was the first ``all-over'' painter, pouring paint rather than using
brushes and a palette, and abandoning all conventions of a central motif.
He danced in semi-ecstasy over canvases spread across the floor, lost in
his patternings, dripping and dribbling with total control. He said: ``The
painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.'' He painted no
image, just ``action'', though ``action painting'' seems an inadequate
term for the finished result of his creative process. Lavender Mist is 3 m
long (nearly 10 ft), a vast expanse on a heroic scale. It is alive with
colored scribble, spattered lines moving this way and that, now
thickening, now trailing off to a slender skein. The eye is kept continually
eager, not allowed to rest on any particular area. Pollock has put his
hands into paint and placed them at the top right-- an instinctive gesture
eerily reminiscent of cave painters who did the same. The overall tone is a
pale lavender, maide airy and active. At the time Pollock was heiled as the
greatest American painter, but there are already those who feel his work
is not holding up in every respect.

When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It's only after a sort of
"get acquainted" period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about
making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its
- quoted in Possibilities I, Winter 1947-48

Paul Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming on 28 January 1912. He was the fifth and youngest
son of LeRoy McCoy Pollock and Stella McClure Pollock. The family left Cody when Pollock was less
than a year old, and he was raised in Arizona and California. After a series of unsuccessful farming
ventures, his father became a surveyor and worked on road crews at the Grand Canyon and
elsewhere in the Southwest. Pollock, who sometimes joined his father on these jobs, later remarked
that memories of the panoramic landscape influenced his artistic vision.

While attending Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, Pollock was encouraged to pursue his early
interest in art. Two of his brothers, Charles and Sanford (known as Sande), were also developing as
artists. Charles, the eldest, went to New York to study with the Regionalist painter Thomas Hart
Benton at the Art Students League, and he suggested that Jackson should join him. In 1930 Pollock
went east and enrolled in Benton's class at the League. It was at about this time that he dropped his
first name, Paul, and began using his middle name.

Under Benton's guidance, Pollock analyzed Old Master paintings and learned the rudiments of
drawing and composition. He also studied mural painting with Benton and posed for his teacher's
1930-31 murals at the New School for Social Research, where the Mexican muralist José Clemente
Orozco was at work on frescoes. Pollock's first-hand experience of contemporary mural painting is
thought to have sparked his ambition to paint large scale works of his own, although he would not
realize that aim until 12 years later. During the 1930s, Pollock's work reflected Benton's "American
Scene" aesthetic, although enriched by a brooding, almost mystical quality reminiscent of the work of
the visionary painter Albert Pinkham Ryder, whom Pollock admired. Orozco's influence also made
itself felt, especially after Pollock saw him at work on his dynamic frescoes for Dartmouth College
(1932-34). Other early influences include Picasso, Miró, and the Surrealists, as well as another
Mexican muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros, who in 1936 established a short-lived experimental
workshop in New York. It was there that Pollock first encountered the use of enamel paint and was
encouraged to try unorthodox techniques such as pouring and flinging the liquid material to achieve
spontaneous effectsWith the advent of the New Deal's work-relief projects, Pollock and many of his
contemporaries were able to work as artists on the federal payroll. Under government aegis, Pollock
enrolled in the easel division of the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project, which
provided him with a source of income for nearly eight years and enabled him to devote himself to
artistic development. Some of Pollock's WPA paintings are now lost, but those that survive--together
with other canvases, drawings and prints made during this period--illustrate his complex synthesis of
source material and the gradual emergence of a deeply personal pictorial language. By the early
1940s, Native American motifs and other pictographic imagery played a central role in his
compositions, marking the beginnings of a mature style. Even as his art was gaining in assurance and
originality, Pollock was experiencing personal turmoil and recurring bouts of depression. He was also
struggling to control his alcoholism, which would continue to plague him throughout his life. His
brothers Charles and Sande, with whom he shared living quarters at 46 East 8th Street in Manhattan,
encouraged him to seek treatment, including psychoanalysis. Although therapy was not successful in
curbing Pollock's drinking or relieving his depression, it introduced him to Jungian concepts that
validated the subjective, symbolic direction his art was taking. In late 1941, Sande wrote to Charles,
who had left New York, that if Jackson could "hold himself together his work will become of real
significance. His painting is abstract, intense, evocative in quality."

At about this time Pollock was invited to participate in a group exhibition of work by French and
American painters, including Picasso, Braque, Matisse and other established masters. Among the
virtually unknown Americans in the group was Lenore Krassner--later known as Lee Krasner--who
became Pollock's lover and later his wife. The work she saw in Pollock's studio convinced her of his
extraordinary talent, and it was not long before influential members of New York's avant-garde
intellegensia began to share her opinion. His work came to the attention of Peggy Guggenheim,
whose gallery, Art of This Century, showed the most challenging new work by American and European
abstractionists and Surrealists. Guggenheim became Pollock's dealer and patron, introducing his work
to the small but avid audience for vanguard painting.

In 1945 Guggenheim lent Pollock the down payment on a small homestead in The Springs, a rural
hamlet near East Hampton, Long Island. This property, now the Pollock-Krasner House and Study
Center, would be Pollock's home for the rest of his life and the site of his most innovative and
influential work. Before moving to The Springs, his imagery had been congested, his colors somber,
and the general mood of his paintings anxious and conflicted. Soon after establishing his studio in the
country, however, his colors brightened, his compositions opened up, and his imagery reflected a new
responsiveness to nature. Soon he would pioneer the spontaneous pouring technique for which he
became world-renowned.

Although Pollock had first experimented with liquid paint at the Siqueiros workshop in 1936, it would
not become his primary medium until more than ten years later. By 1947 he was creating densely
layered all-over compositions that earned both praise and scorn from the critics. Some dismissed them
as meaningless and chaotic, while others saw them as superbly organized, visually fascinating and
psychologically compelling. Clement Greenberg, one of Pollock's most ardent supporters, maintained
that he was "the most powerful painter in contemporary America and the only one who promises to be
a major one." With several one-person exhibitions to his credit and work included in important group
shows, Pollock was receiving significant attention. A profile in the 8 August 1949 issue of Life
magazine introduced his challenging art to a nationwide audience and cemented his growing
reputation as the foremost modern painter of his generation.

Pollock's radical breakthrough was accompanied by a period of sobriety lasting two years, during
which he created some of his most beautiful masterpieces. In his barn studio, he spread his canvas on
the floor and developed his compositions by working from all four sides, allowing the imagery to evolve
spontaneously, without preconceptions. Pollock described this technique as "direct" painting and
likened it to American Indian sand painting. He maintained, however, that the method was "a natural
growth out of a need," and that its only importance was as "a means of arriving at a statement." The
character and content of that statement were then and remain controversial, subject to widely varying
interpretations--which is why Pollock's art has retained its vitality in spite of changing tastes.

In 1951 Pollock's aesthetic underwent a shift in emphasis as he abandoned non-objective imagery in

favor of abstracted references to human and animal forms. "When you're working out of your
unconscious," he explained, "figures are bound to emerge." He also gave up color to create a series of
stark black paintings on unprimed canvas. Many of his admirers were ambivalent about his new
direction, which may account at least in part for Pollock's inability to remain sober. For the next five
years he would struggle unsuccessfully to solve his drinking problem, while his art underwent a series
of revisions, some more successful than others. Color returned, gesture became richer and more
various, and Pollock once again veiled his imagery in layers that obscured as much as they revealed.

By 1955, however, Pollock's personal demons had triumphed over his artistic drive, and he stopped
painting altogether. Ironically, his work had begun to earn a respectable income for him and Krasner,
who was becoming increasingly estranged from her troubled, alcoholic husband. In the summer of
1956 she took the opportunity of a trip to Europe to re-evaluate their relationship, while Pollock
remained at home with a young mistress to distract him from the agonies of self-doubt and inaction
that plagued him. In Paris, on the morning of 12 August, Krasner received a telephone call informing
her that Pollock had died the night before in an automobile accident. Driving drunk, he had overturned
his convertible, killing himself and an acquaintance and seriously injuring his other passenger.


Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912.[3] His father was a farmer and later a land
surveyor for the government.[3] He grew up in Arizona and Chico, California, studying at Los
Angeles' Manual Arts High School. During his early life, he experienced Native American
culture while on surveying trips with his father.[3] In 1930, following his brother Charles, he
moved to New York City, where they both studied under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art
Students League of New York. Benton's rural American subject matter shaped Pollock's work
only fleetingly, but his rhythmic use of paint and his fierce independence were more lasting
influences.[3] From 1935 to 1943, Pollock worked for the WPA Federal Art Project.[4]

[edit] The Springs period and the unique technique

No. 5, 1948

In October 1945, Pollock married another important American painter, Lee Krasner, and in
November they moved to what is now known as the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio in
Springs on Long Island, New York. Peggy Guggenheim loaned them the down payment for
the wood-frame house with a nearby barn that Pollock made into a studio. It was there that he
perfected the technique of working spontaneously with liquid paint.

Pollock was introduced to the use of liquid paint in 1936, at an experimental workshop
operated in New York City by the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. He later used
paint pouring as one of several techniques in canvases of the early 1940s, such as "Male and
Female" and "Composition with Pouring I." After his move to Springs, he began painting with
his canvases laid out on the studio floor, and developed what was later called his "drip"
technique. The drip technique required paint with a fluid viscosity. Therefore Pollock turned
to synthetic resin-based paints called alkyd enamels, at that time a novel medium. Pollock
described this use of household paints, instead of artist’s paints, as "a natural growth out of a
need".[5] He used hardened brushes, sticks, and even basting syringes as paint applicators.
Pollock's technique of pouring and dripping paint is thought to be one of the origins of the
term action painting. With this technique, Pollock was able to achieve a more immediate
means of creating art, the paint now literally flowing from his chosen tool onto the canvas. By
defying the convention of painting on an upright surface, he added a new dimension, literally,
by being able to view and apply paint to his canvases from all directions.
In the process of making paintings in this way, he moved away from figurative representation,
and challenged the Western tradition of using easel and brush. He also moved away from the
use of only the hand and wrist, since he used his whole body to paint. In 1956, Time magazine
dubbed Pollock "Jack the Dripper" as a result of his unique painting style.[6]

My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas
“ to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I
am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk
around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting. ”
I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as easel, palette,
“ brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy

impasto with sand, broken glass or other foreign matter added.

When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort
“ of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of
making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its
own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting
that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take,
and the painting comes out well. ”
Pollock's One: Number 31, 1950 occupies an entire wall by itself at the Museum of Modern
Art, New York City

Pollock observed Indian sandpainting demonstrations in the 1940s. Other influences on his
dripping technique include the Mexican muralists and also Surrealist automatism. Pollock
denied "the accident"; he usually had an idea of how he wanted a particular piece to appear.
His technique combined the movement of his body, over which he had control, the viscous
flow of paint, the force of gravity, and the absorption of paint into the canvas. It was a mixture
of controllable and uncontrollable factors. Flinging, dripping, pouring, and spattering, he
would move energetically around the canvas, almost as if in a dance, and would not stop until
he saw what he wanted to see.

Studies by Taylor, Micolich and Jonas have examined Pollock's technique and have
determined that some works display the properties of mathematical fractals.[7]They assert that
the works become more fractal-like chronologically through Pollock's career.[8] The authors
even speculate that Pollock may have had an intuition of the nature of chaotic motion, and
attempted to form a representation of mathematical chaos, more than ten years before "Chaos
Theory" itself was proposed. Other experts[9]suggest that Pollock may have merely imitated
popular theories of the time in order to give his paintings a depth not previously seen.

In 1950, Hans Namuth, a young photographer, wanted to photograph and film Pollock at
work. Pollock promised to start a new painting especially for the photographic session, but
when Namuth arrived, Pollock apologized and told him the painting was finished. Namuth's
comment upon entering the studio:
A dripping wet canvas covered the entire floor. . . There was complete silence. . .
“ Pollock looked at the painting. Then, unexpectedly, he picked up can and paint
brush and started to move around the canvas. It was as if he suddenly realized the
painting was not finished. His movements, slow at first, gradually became faster
and more dance like as he flung black, white, and rust colored paint onto the
canvas. He completely forgot that Lee and I were there; he did not seem to hear
the click of the camera shutter. . . My photography session lasted as long as he
kept painting, perhaps half an hour. In all that time, Pollock did not stop. How
could one keep up this level of activity? Finally, he said 'This is it.' ”
Pollock’s finest paintings… reveal that his all-over line does not give rise to
“ positive or negative areas: we are not made to feel that one part of the canvas
demands to be read as figure, whether abstract or representational, against another
part of the canvas read as ground. There is not inside or outside to Pollock’s line
or the space through which it moves…. Pollock has managed to free line not only
from its function of representing objects in the world, but also from its task of
describing or bounding shapes or figures, whether abstract or representational, on
the surface of the canvas.(Karmel 132) ”
Pollock's Studio in Springs, New York.

[edit] The 1950s and beyond

Pollock's most famous paintings were made during the "drip period" between 1947 and 1950.
He rocketed to popular status following an August 8, 1949 four-page spread in Life Magazine
that asked, "Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?" At the peak of his fame,
Pollock abruptly abandoned the drip style.[10]

Pollock's work after 1951 was darker in color, including a collection painted in black on
unprimed canvases. This was followed by a return to color[11], and he reintroduced figurative
elements. During this period Pollock had moved to a more commercial gallery and there was
great demand from collectors for new paintings. In response to this pressure, along with
personal frustration, his alcoholism deepened.[citation needed]

[edit] From naming to numbering

Pollock wanted an end to the viewer's search for representational elements in his paintings,
thus he abandoned titles and started numbering the paintings instead. Of this, Pollock
commented: "...look passively and try to receive what the painting has to offer and not bring a
subject matter or preconceived idea of what they are to be looking for." Pollock's wife, Lee
Krasner, said Pollock "used to give his pictures conventional titles... but now he simply
numbers them. Numbers are neutral. They make people look at a picture for what it is - pure

[edit] Death
Jackson Pollock's grave in the rear with Lee Krasner's grave in front in the Green River

Pollock did not paint at all in 1955.[11] After struggling with alcoholism his entire life,
Pollock's career was cut short on August 11, 1956 at 10:15pm when he died in a single-car
crash in his Oldsmobile convertible while driving under the influence of alcohol. One of the
passengers, Edith Metzger, also was killed in the accident, which occurred less than a mile
from Pollock's home. The other passenger, Pollock's girlfriend Ruth Kligman, survived. [12]
After Pollock's death at the age of 44, his wife, Lee Krasner, managed his estate and ensured
that Pollock's reputation remained strong despite changing art-world trends. They are buried
in Green River Cemetery in Springs with a large boulder marking his grave and a smaller one
marking hers.

[edit] Legacy

The Pollock-Krasner House and Studio is owned and administered by the Stony Brook
Foundation, a non-profit affiliate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. There
are regular tours of the house and studio from May through October.

A separate organization, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, was established in 1985. The

Foundation not only functions as the official Estate for both Pollock and his widow Lee
Krasner, but also, under the terms of Krasner's will, serves "to assist individual working artists
of merit with financial need."[13] The U.S. copyright representative for the Pollock-Krasner
Foundation is the Artists Rights Society (ARS)[14].

[edit] Pollock in Pop Culture & News

In 1960, Ornette Coleman's album "Free Jazz" featured a Pollock painting as its cover

In 1973, Blue Poles (Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952), was purchased by the Australian
Whitlam Government for the National Gallery of Australia for US $2 million (AU $1.3
million at the time of payment). At the time, this was the highest price ever paid for a modern
painting. In the conservative climate of the time, the purchase created a political and media
scandal. The painting is now one of the most popular exhibits in the gallery, and is thought to
be worth between $100 and $150 million, according to 2006 estimates.[15] It was a centerpiece
of the Museum of Modern Art's 1998 retrospective in New York, the first time the painting
had returned to America since its purchase.

In 2000, the biographical film Pollock was released. Marcia Gay Harden won the Academy
Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Lee Krasner. The movie was the
project of Ed Harris who portrayed Pollock and directed it. He was nominated for Academy
Award for Best Actor.

In 2003, twenty-four Pollock-esque paintings and drawings were found in a Wainscott, New
York locker. There is an inconclusive ongoing debate about whether or not these works are
Pollock originals. Physicists have argued over whether fractals can be used to authenticate the
paintings. Analysis of the synthetic pigments shows that some were not patented until the
1980s, and therefore that it is highly improbable that Pollock could have used such paints.[16]
In November 2006, Pollock's "No. 5, 1948" became the world's most expensive painting,
when it was sold privately to an undisclosed buyer for the sum of $140,000,000. The previous
owner was film and music-producer David Geffen. It is rumored that the current owner is a
German businessman and art collector.

Also in 2006 a documentary, Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? was made concerning Teri
Horton, a truck driver who in 1992 bought an abstract painting for the price of five dollars, at
a thrift store in California. This work may be a lost Pollock painting now worth millions; its
authenticity, however, remains debated.

[edit] Relationship to Native American art

Pollock stated: “I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk round it,
work from the four sides and literally be in the painting. This is akin to the methods of the
Indian sand painters of the West.” [18]

[edit] Critical debate

Pollock's work has always polarized critics and has been the focus of many important critical

In a famous 1952 article in ARTnews, Harold Rosenberg coined the term "action painting,"
and wrote that "what was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event. The big moment
came when it was decided to paint 'just to paint.' The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of
liberation from value — political, aesthetic, moral." Many people assumed that he had
modeled his "action painter" paradigm on Pollock.

Clement Greenberg supported Pollock's work on formalistic grounds. It fit well with
Greenberg's view of art history as a progressive purification in form and elimination of
historical content. He therefore saw Pollock's work as the best painting of its day and the
culmination of the Western tradition going back via Cubism and Cézanne to Manet.

Some posthumous exhibitions of Pollock's work were sponsored by the Congress for Cultural
Freedom, an organization to promote American culture and values backed by the CIA. Certain
left-wing scholars, most prominently Eva Cockcroft, argue that the U.S. government and
wealthy elite embraced Pollock and abstract expressionism in order to place the United States
firmly in the forefront of global art and devalue socialist realism.[19][20] In the words of
Cockcroft, Pollock became a "weapon of the Cold War".[21]

Painter Norman Rockwell's work Connoisseur[22] also appears to make a commentary on the
Pollock style. The painting features what seems to be a rather upright man in a suit standing
before a Jackson Pollock-like spatter painting.

Others such as artist, critic, and satirist Craig Brown, have been "astonished that decorative
'wallpaper', essentially brainless, could gain such a position in art history alongside Giotto,
Titian, and Velázquez."[23]

Reynolds News in a 1959 headline said, "This is not art — it's a joke in bad taste." [19]