Number 8 by Jackson Pollock


"Number 8" (1949)
Pollock, Jackson (1912 - 1956)
Oil, enamel, and aluminum paint on canvas
Neuberger Museum, State University of New York


It has been suggested that Jackson Pollock was influenced by Native American sand paintings, made by trickling thin lines of colored sand onto a horizontal surface. It was not until 1947 that Pollock began his "action'' paintings, influenced by Surrealist ideas of  "psychic automatism'' (direct expression of the unconscious). Pollock would fix his canvas to the floor and drip paint from a can using a variety of objects to manipulate the paint. Jackson  Pollock wanted an end to the viewer's search for representational elements in his paintings, thus he abandoned titles and started numbering the paintings instead. Of this, Pollock commented: "...look passively and try to receive what the painting has to offer and not bring a subject matter or preconceived idea of what they are to be looking for." Pollock's wife, Lee Krasner, said Pollock "used to give his pictures conventional titles... but now he simply numbers them. Numbers are neutral. They make people look at a picture for what it is - pure painting."

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