October 18, 2013

MoMA Washes Pollock’s Hands:

Jackson Pollock made Number 1A, 1948, at a transformative moment in his career. He had abandoned the easel for the floor. He had started using enamel house paints, which he alternated with artists’ oils. He was on a quest for pure painting, and he began by marking his territory.

So he applied paint to his palms and pressed them on the surface.

Pollock also used his hands to lightly smear color across the painting. He worked some sections with a brush. He dragged pigment directly from a tube to create ribbons of impasto. In between, he dripped and poured paint on the canvas.

Soot, dirt, and had grime covered the painting over the decades, diminishing its powers. Earlier this year, as part of the Bank of America-funded Jackson Pollock Conservation Project, curators embarked on its first major cleaning.   

One surprise was how the palm prints popped. They had always been visible in the top right portion of the canvas and various other points throughout. With grime gone, they take a more dominant role, showing how the artist used his own body as a tool to mark his newly horizontal canvases.

Now more than ever, the work evokes the walls of a prehistoric cave, the oldest known mark-making of primitive man.

“He’s declaring his identity free of language in the most elemental way,” says Ann Temkin, chief curator of MoMA’s department of painting and sculpture.

“He wanted to bring modern art to that same level of essentialism. He’s harking back to a period when humankind was not far past the ape stage.”

Read more at artnews.com

Jackson Pollock, Number 1A, 1948, 1948, oil and enamel paint on canvas. 

All images ©2013 POLLOCK-KRASNER FOUNDATION/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK. IMAGES COURTESY MOMA.

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    art restoration work is super cool and fascinating but also i kind of just want to quote “He’s harking back to a period...
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