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Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) by Jackson Pollock

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) by Jackson Pollock.

About the Work

Title: Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)
Artist : Jackson Pollock
Year : 1950
Medium : enamel on canvas
Dimensions :  105 x 207 in. (266.7 x 525.8 cm)
Location : MET Museum, NY

Jackson Pollock_Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) 1950_Artwork in Focus_Divvya Nirula
Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950 by Jackson Pollock Image courtesy : MET Museum

Autumn Rhythm, No. 30

Pollock painted his Autumn Rhythm, in the October of 1950. The artwork was characteristic of his Abstract Expressionist style. It demonstrated the exquisite balance between accident and Pollock’s control over his technique. The dynamism invested in the works paved the way for his works being termed ‘action paintings’ which in a way contained the very process that he employed. His unusual style was described as ‘poured’ and ‘dripped’. He usually painted on an unstretched canvas, flattened on the floor. These did not do justice to the diversity of movement that he employed to create.

There were however certain common aspects in his works that stood out – even Autumn Rhythm, saw the backdrop of a complex linear structure, using black paint. The technical aspect involved that the initial layer of diluted paint soaked into the length of canvas. Finally the black framework saw an intricate web of white, brown, and turquoise lines. The effect of this was fantastic to the eye which perceived palpably visual rhythms and sensations: the lines were prolific and impetuous some light and dark, some heavy, some thick, others straight and curved, or at times horizontal and vertical.

Pollock’s imagery is far from representational however there is a conveying of nature and the presence of nature through the web of lives.

“New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements…the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture.”

Jackson Pollock

Other Details

Pollock’s work was informed with a deep sense of spirituality, and its reaction to the chaotic times that he was living through. He was himself raised in an agnostic background and was given into moving several times. But when he had the opportunity to attend art school he quickly picked up the
rudiments of technique.

In 1928, when he was enrolled in Manual Arts High School, here is where he actually came into contact with Frederick John de St. Vrain Schwankovsky, a painter and illustrator, and a member of the Theosophical Society. He was further inspired by the literature and the studies of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Carl Jung and the collective unconscious. His spiritual explorations informed the works of his latter years.

To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit the archive for Artwork in Focus.

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