The Mysterious Rituals Of Jackson Pollock's Abstraction

Updated: Nov 25


The Mysterious Rituals Of Jackson Pollock's Abstraction
Jackson Pollock's Abstraction

Jackson Pollock was an American painter and a major figure in the abstraction movement. He was widely noticed for his "drip technique" of pouring or splashing paint onto a horizontal surface, enabling him to view and paint his canvases from all angles. since he covered the entire canvas and used the force of his whole body to paint, often in a frenetic dancing style.


The famous 'drip paintings' he began producing in the 1940s represent one of the most remarkable abstraction symbols. they could represent an innovative step out of the traditional art boundaries, an expression of the anxious, and newly frightening modern world.


From another point of view, Jackson Pollock intended to start his ritual journey, perhaps targeting contact with Hilma Af Klint's "High Masters", or maybe he has gone further trying to validate Helena Blavatsky's secret doctrine.


In 1928 they moved to Los Angeles, where Jackson Pollock enrolled at Manual Arts High School. There he came under the influence of Frederick John de St. Vrain Schwankovsky, a painter and illustrator who was also a member of the theosophical Society that promoted metaphysical and occult spirituality. Schwankovsky gave Pollock rudimentary training in drawing and painting, introduced him to advanced currents of European modern art, and encouraged his interest in theosophical literature. At this time Pollock, who had been raised an agnostic, also attended the camp meetings of the theosophist Jiddu Krishnamurti, a personal friend of Schwankovsky. These spiritual explorations prepared him to embrace the theories of the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and the exploration of unconscious imagery in his paintings in subsequent years.


Pollock observed Native American sand painting demonstrations in the 1940s. Referring to his style of painting on the floor, Pollock stated, "I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk round it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting. This is akin to the methods of the Indian sand painters of the West."


Native American sand painting
Native American sand painting

Other influences on his drip technique include the Mexican muralists and Surrealist automatism which is a method of art-making in which the artist suppresses conscious control over the making process, allowing the unconscious mind to have great sway.


Pollock usually had an idea of how he wanted a particular work to appear. His technique combined the movement of his body, over which he had control, the viscous flow of paint, the force of gravity, and the absorption of paint into the canvas. It was a mixture of controllable and uncontrollable factors. Flinging, dripping, pouring, and spattering, he would move energetically around the canvas, almost as if in a dance, and would not stop until he saw what he wanted to see.

Guardians of the Secret Jackson Pollock 1943
Guardians of the Secret Jackson Pollock 1943

Guardians of the Secret is partly indebted to Native American art (Pollock attended the 1941 Indian Art Exhibition at MoMA - with his Jungian psychotherapist).

Jungian Psychotherapy is an analytical approach to talk therapy that seeks to bring balance and union between the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind.


Pollock, having grown up in the West, was exposed to Native American art early. In fact, Pollock recollected witnessing Indian rituals as a child, such rituals played an important role in the development of his artistic process. Pollock was inspired by Indian sand painters who created temporary works of art as part of a religious ritual as well as the notion that art-making is a spiritual process. he turned to drip paint in a shamanistic attempt to heal himself; not coincidentally, Indian sand painting is often part of a healing ritual.


Though Pollock sought out Indian art and became well-versed in the ethnology of Native Americans, he maintained that his debt to Indian art was subconscious, as he did not deliberately draw upon American Indian artistic process or subject matter. What sort of myths do you see in this painting? What do you think the "secret" is, and who are the "guardians?" Did Pollock become his own shaman?


Lucifer Jackson Pollock 1947
Lucifer Jackson Pollock 1947

Lucifer was the name of the planet Venus, though it was often personified as a male figure bearing a torch. Lucifer was said to be "the fabled son of Aurora and Cephalus, and father of Ceyx", In Christianity Lucifer represents the fallen angel, the angel who became so impressed with his own beauty, intelligence, power, and position that he began to desire for himself the honor and glory that belonged to God alone. This pride represents the actual beginning of sin in the universe.


Lucifer Painting, in which Pollock freely admitted total retrenchment from traditional methods of oil painting, at some point in the process of painting, Pollock laid down his brush and began instead to drip and spatter his pigment, not quite completely covering the underlayer, into which he also embedded small pieces of gravel to increase the texture.


Jackson Pollock decided to focus his efforts on a deliberate and sustained exploration of the possibilities of creating an entire composition by dripping or pouring paint, A full four years after his first experimentation with this technique Pollock returned to it with a vengeance, Pollock devised a handy way to create a more continuous line by tilting a commercial can of thinner, more liquid paint, and allowing it to run down a stick placed in the can at an angle.


Jackson Pollock died on August 11, 1956, at 10:15 p.m., in a single-car crash in his Oldsmobile convertible while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Jackson Pollock tried to do, what he believed, could allow the energy literally "flow" straight from his unconscious to the canvas.




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