Lavender Mist: Number 1, 1950
1950 (350 Kb); Oil on canvas, Oil, enamel, and aluminum on canvas;
221 x 300 cm (7 ft 3 in x 9 ft 10 in);
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Pollock was the first ``all-over'' painter, pouring paint rather than using
brushes and a palette, and abandoning all conventions of a central motif.
He danced in semi-ecstasy over canvases spread across the floor, lost in
his patternings, dripping and dribbling with total control. He said:
``The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.''
He painted no image, just ``action'', though ``action painting'' seems
an inadequate term for the finished result of his creative process.
Lavender Mist is 3 m long (nearly 10 ft), a vast expanse on
a heroic scale. It is alive with colored scribble, spattered lines moving
this way and that, now thickening, now trailing off to a slender skein.
The eye is kept continually eager, not allowed to rest on any particular
area. Pollock has put his hands into paint and placed them at the top right--
an instinctive gesture eerily reminiscent of cave painters who did the same.
The overall tone is a pale lavender, maide airy and active. At the time
Pollock was heiled as the greatest American painter, but there are already
those who feel his work is not holding up in every respect.
Lee Krasner (1908-84), who married Pollock in 1944, was not celebrated at
all during his lifetime (cut short in 1956 by a fatal car crash), but it
was actually she who first started covering the canvas with a passionate
flurry of marks. The originality of her vision, its stiff integrity and
its great sense of internal cohesion, is now beginning to be recognized.
Cobalt Night (1962; 237 x 401 cm (7 ft 9 1/3 x 13 ft 2 in))
at 4 m (over 13 ft) is even larger than Lavender Mist and
has the same kind of heroic ambition.
© 18 Sep 1995,
Nicolas Pioch -
Thanks to the
BMW Foundation, the WebMuseum
and contributors for their support.