Greenburg & Rosenberg on Jackson Pollock

Free Essay Sample «Greenburg & Rosenberg on Jackson Pollock»

Among the represented works of the 1940s, it is necessary to allocate some texts, which authors attempted to consolidate a group of beginners in the school of abstract expressionists, such as the existed one in Paris, and turn their creativity to the global process of development of non-figurative art. There are Jewell (“Scope of art: the new principles, the phenomenon of “globalism””), and Riley (“Whither abstract art and surrealism?”), etc. Moreover, there are some critics and journalists, who have studied directly Pollock’s work primarily with the socio-cultural positions: Farber, Kouts, Seyberling. The last one of these opuses, on the formulation of the question and enthusiastic tone, was inspired by C. Greenberg, who at the end of the 1940s in his reviews lavished praise J. Pollock and his style, do not skimp on the amount of superlatives. In his works, there can be found such epithets and definitions as “powerful originality of talent,” “rapid development and improvement,” “title of the greatest artist of the United States in the XX century”, and finally, “one of the greatest masters of our time”. In addition, admiration, recognition, and attention, which were shown to J. Pollock from the “highbrow” regular art critic “The Nation” had known a stir in the media; intrigued journalists and photographers were private guests of the artist’s studio in the town of Springs on Long Island, which was located in the suburbs of New York.

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However, working in line with a general discourse, posing at the same time new challenges, in the end of the decade, there appeared the most clearly manifested critic C. Greenberg, who got the title as one of the most authoritative experts in the field. It is about his essays in periodicals media, where he explored the phenomenon of abstract expressionism in general, in the 1950s, it is significantly deepened and developed his theoretical views and more detailed investigation of the works of J. Pollock and his “action painting”. Comparing to the figure of C. Greenberg, the least influential person arose. It was H. Rozenberg art critic, who disclosed the other sides of the born before their eyes art (Art Critics Comparison: Clement Greenberg vs. Harold Rosenberg). In 1949, there was opened a group exhibition “Ultra-subjective masters”. It was attended not only by J. Pollock, but also by Baziotts, Gorky, Reinhardt, and others. Moreover, the catalog was released with an accompanying essay by H. Rosenberg, who determined the direction, in which the artists were creating, as well as set out a huge amount of interesting conclusions and observations about their paintings. However, anticipating his 1952 essay “American Action Painters”, who had a truly historical significance in terms of the study of the abstract expressionism and “action painting”, three years before its release, the critic wrote: “Contemporary artist inspires something visible, but only something he to be seen. In short, he starts with “something” or “emptiness”. This is the only thing he plays. Everything else he invents and creates itself”. Rosenberg exactly expressed the potential for the emergence of meanings, metaphors, and associations, which were lurk in the canvases of J. Pollock and his colleagues.

In December 1952, the magazine “Art News” published the H. Rosenberg’s program “American Action Painters” (The American Action Painters: Harold Rosenberg). For the first time there was this famous statement that reflects supply, form, and the essence of art, which was so rapidly developing to the fore at the end of the previous decade. The author, a former student of law, passionately and eloquently defended his position of an unconditional supporter and defender of the rising stars of abstract expressionism. Rejecting the formalist and structural analysis of the descriptions of specific works, without referring to any specialists in this field, Rosenberg has focused its attention on the reader’s basic characteristics of this phenomenon, bringing together its representatives under the new term “action painters”. Prototype, whose collective image was clearly shown through the written word, and whose accomplishments had forever changed the landscape off the High Modernism painting, according to many critics (Greenberg, Rose, Friedman, Robertson and others), served as the identity of Jackson Pollock.

If the picture is in itself an act, then its true meaning is to look everywhere except art. Traditional aesthetic references here do not fit. What really gives meaning to work is that the artist transforms his emotional and intellectual energy. Next, H. Rosenberg concludes with a polemical conclusion that in the process of creating paintings in the style of action painting, “the artist destroys” all distinction between art and life.

The majority of works in Italy, dating from 1947, were subjected to critical evaluation by C. Greenberg, who more fully outlined his views about it in 1955, in his essay “The American-Type Painting” in the “Partisan Review”. In a review of the latest exhibition of Pollock in the “Art of this Century”, which was owned by the same Guggenheim, he wrote that he “moved to the stage where he needed to express the poetics of his canvases through a clear and transparent system of symbols”. Further, engaging in polemics with the theory of the development of the abstract expressionism by H. Rosenberg, he wrote that “as is the case with all post-Cubist painting, which claims to originality, strength and energy of the J. Pollock’s things rests on the tension that creates a constructive, restored their surface flatness”.

Mature themes and content of the paintings of Jackson Pollock and his colleagues were studied by Rosenblum and Ellouey, who discovered them in connection with the traditions of the Western European art. For example, the works of artists and romantic poets of the XVIII-XIX centuries. This refers to the article “The Abstract Sublime” first (1961, “Art News”) and “American Sublime” second (1963, “Living Arts”). Rosenblum described the “sublime” as an aesthetic category, formally the opposite category of the “nice”, as “mobile semantic repository, fear, awe, terror, and the boundlessness of divinity”.

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