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Watch a short film of Jackson Pollock describing his creative process


Embraced as an innovative artist of the approaching new millennium whilst also being dismissed as a radical recluse, Jackson Pollock was one of the most influential painters of the 20th century, encouraging a renewed interest in the abstract expressionist movement of art. Splashing, dripping and pouring paint and other liquids over his canvas, Pollock became widely recognised for his chaotic artistic style, approaching the stereotypically stuffy art world with a defiant individuality. 

Using the entire canvas and ignoring the recognised borders of art, Pollock used the force of his body along with his own frenetic enthusiasm to paint, often doing so in fevered dance. Such divided the art world, with many individuals quick to disregard Pollock’s random approach to his work, despite this being the finest and most interesting aspects of his pieces. His volatile personality did not help this public image, with Pollock often keeping his distance from the media, partly due to the fact that he struggled with alcoholism throughout his life.

In contemporary society, Jackson Pollock is seen as something of a modern artistic genius, with the bizarre splashes, lines and chaos of his work speaking to a certain aesthetic curiosity that pervades modern society. So successful and timeless are his works that the artist’s painting titled Number 17A is reported to have been bought in a private purchase for $200 million in 2016.

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Spending vast amounts of considered time on giant canvases, although Pollock’s work is often considered random, the creative process is anything but, as the short film Jackson Pollock 51, released in 1951, demonstrates. “I don’t work from drawings or colour sketches, my painting is direct,” the artist exclaimed in the straightforward documentary short that follows Pollock in the design of one of his masterworks. Explaining his process as he works, Pollock adds: “I usually paint on the floor, I enjoy working on a large canvas, I feel more at home, more at ease on a big area”.

Allowing him to easily walk around the canvas, work from all four corners and fully embrace the scale of the project, Pollock notes that the size of the job allows him to occupy a space “in the painting,” making his creative process far easier. Watching him in his trance-like painting and splashing of the wide canvas, viewers are given a glimpse into the mind of a true visionary. 

Though he does not address the opinion of others, Pollock does give reason for his practice, discrediting the opinions of those who claim that his work is entirely random and therefore ‘illegitimate’. Speaking in the short film the artist exclaims, “There is no accident, just as there’s no beginning and no end…I have no fear of changes, of destroying the image because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it live”. 

Using the canvas as a playground, Pollock brings a landscape of abstract colour, jagged shapes and ethereal images to life, remaining one of the finest artists of modern art.