Jackson Pollock, “Number 8”, 1949 Drip Period, Enamel and Oil on Canvas, Neuburger Museum, State University of New York at Purchase
In the 1949 painting “Number 8”, Jackson Pollock’s line of paint has the capacity to be everywhere at once, to serve the ends of both illusion and substance. The paint line functioned supremely well as the vehicle of a speed of light all-overness, creating the impression that Pollock’s large poured all-over paintings arrived at their structure both internally and immediately. Pollock’s delicate crusts, which achieved an infinitesimal layer of relief, had profound affinities with two related modernist achievements, the Analytic Cubism of Picasso and the late wall-sized Impressionism of Claude Monet.
Pollock’s encrusted, puddled, labyrinthine, and weblike surfaces are physically and erotically present, enticing the viewer into a relation in which his body, and not just his eyesight, directly confronts the abstract field. This relation, which is at least as close to the experience of architecture as it is to the tradition of seeing through or “into” an illusionistic painting, can be deceptive. By means of his interlaced trickles and spatters, Pollock created a fluctuating movement between a clearly definite surface and an illusion of indeterminate, but somehow, definitely shallow depth. This effect reminds viewers of what Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque arrived at with the facet-planes of their Analytical Cubist paintings.