about the process

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.


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