Tuesday, May 19, 2009

cuts a circle

"the moon-woman cuts a circle", 1942.

Classified '4-F: unfit for service" in 1941 on psychological grounds, Pollock began work on a series of paintings which would form the basis for his first solo exhibition, at Peggy Guggenheim’s 'Art of This Century' gallery two years later. This new period coincided with the dissolving of the WPA - specifically, The Federal Arts Project - a government relief program which provided funding to Pollock and millions of others through the Great Depression from its inception in 1935. While the WPA undoubtably provided a desperately needed source of income in rural and western areas - primarily through its major construction projects - in Pollock's case, as a publicly funded muralist and student in David Alfaro Siqueiros’s experimental workshop in New York City
, it also indirectly sustained or fueled his binge drinking and notoriously out of control alcohol dependency.

For the first time, essentially, the thirty-year-old Pollock found himself a respite from the constraints of working more or less to order, or at least the notion of an end product fit for public consumption. More pressingly, it prompted the painter to redefine his entire work ethic.

detail from the figurative
oil, "going west", 1934-5.

"The Moon-Woman" is striking in its indebtedness to Pablo Picasso, certainly.

Produced some five years prior to his adopting those principles which would come to define action painting, it nonetheless seems to contain elements of greater things to come; an underlying
sense of restlessness and resistence to conformity which would ultimately demand uninhibited dissolution through the less considered mechanics of fluidity.

The anticipation of devolution of form and the revealing of those chaotic forces which serve to agitate. Above and below the surface.

Not so much a groundbreaking piece as the embodiment of an open question, it also helped secure the patronage of Peggy Guggenheim; the material relief of a one year contract at $150 per month, against sales, and the opportunity not just to paint full-time but to reach an - very well-heeled - audience.

THIN WHITE ROPE: MOONHEAD from "Moonhead" LP (Frontier / Zippo) 1987 (US)

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