Photograph © 1999 Estate of Hans Namuth. Courtesy Pollock-Krasner House
In the 1950s art critic Harold Rosenberg described the archetypal "action painter" as an artist who transformed
his canvas into a modern-day arena wherein an epic struggle between man and material
might unfold. Process was paramount. With grand, heroically scaled gestures, the action painter
created an art of confrontation and catharsis.
Nearly half a century later, contemporary response to the rhetorical excesses that
helped establish action painting as a "heroic" art form has
been tempered, and the view of abstract expressionism as the triumph
of American painting has fallen out of fashion. There is, however,
no denying Pollock's monumental impact on the history of American art.