The essay "Jackson Pollock and Modern Art" explores the art of Jackson Pollock and his impact in the context of Modern Art. He was “a roughshod, ill-mannered, prodigiously ambitious, aggressive, alcoholic, tormented artist .” This image is important to an interpretation of the apparently chaotic nature of much of Pollock’s works, and the technique that led to them. However, as is often the case with creative artists of all sorts, and particularly painters such as Pollock, there was a method to his madness. As Toynton has pointed out, films of Pollock creating his paintings clearly show that even the most abstract of them start as figurative works and only move into the abstract as they develop.Pollock moved his canvas from the easel to the floor, thus enabling him to work on much larger canvases with greater ease than before, and also to see them from multiple points of view. In one revealing statement he talked about his technique and why he used it: My painting does not come from the easel. I hardly ever stretch the canvas before painting. 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. It is interesting to note that Pollock takes an intense and yet casual approach to his painting. Thus the fact that he does not go through the often laborious process.
of stretching the canvas before painting on it, but rather merely tacking it to a wall or floor illustrates the casual, almost primitive method of preparation. At the same time Pollock becomes more intensely involved with the painting, as if he were actually a part of it:
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.
The idea of being "in" the painting is of course hardly new to Pollock, but the fact that his technique apparently fitted into his emotional and intellectual attachment to the painting is. His physical technique: standing on and thus within the painting, had a profound effect both upon his creations and upon generations of creative artists in general and painters in particular, for years both during and after his lifetime.
Pollock hinted, although never explicitly stated, that he was influenced by Native American sand paintings, which are made by trickling thin lines of colored sand onto a flat surface. After WWII, in 1947 Pollock began what he called his "action paintings", which were at least partially informed by the surrealist ideas of "psychic automatism". This automatism was meant to be a direct expression of the unconscious. A direct expression of something which is, by definition, unknowable to the conscious mind might seem a