ADAMWEINBERG: At first when we look at Jackson Pollock’s work, it looks accidental, even sloppy. But try to isolate a single color and follow its path through the painting. You’ll see that it’s actually carefully and deliberately constructed. Pollock placed the canvas on the floor of his studio; then he moved around it, dripping and splattering the paint in layers, painstakingly building up the surface. The composition itself is a map of his movement, a record of raw emotion.
A generation earlier, realism dominated American painting. But the Second World War threw everything into question. Pollock responded with groundbreaking abstractions like this one. His paintings are grand and improvisational. In 1950 he said “It seems to me that the modern painter cannot express this age—the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio—in the old forms of the Renaissance, or of any other past culture. Each age finds its own technique.”
During the postwar era, the center of the art world shifted from Europe to New York. Abstract art established itself as the dominant style, led by artists like Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko, and Kline.