24.10.1961 – 29.11.1961
Titan, Witch Master, Athlete in Paint: Jackson Pollock
With 128 works, the exhibition at the Kunsthaus was considered the most comprehensive show of Jackson Pollock (b. 1912 Cody, Wyoming, d. 1956 East Hampton, New York) ever seen in Europe. For Zurich, the selection of works from the exhibition originally shown at the Kunstverein fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen Düsseldorf was heavily revised and included numerous loans from the last years of Pollock's career, which were made available to the Kunsthaus by Lee Krasner, Pollock's widow. The production of the exhibition was undertaken by the London gallery Marlborough Fine Art Ltd, which administered the estate. Pollock, the most prominent representative of U.S. Abstract Expressionism, is known as an artist who overcame figuration: By spraying paint onto canvas stretched out on the floor, he freed himself from conventional paint application, from the limitations of a picture frame and from the expectation that a painting must be through-composed. The result was a ‘counter-figurative expressivity,’ as Andreas Wartenberg wrote in the National-Zeitung. At the same time, the same critic denied the works their status as art: ‘Pictures in a real sense they are not, since they lack any structure: They are random cutouts that have no relationship to the border and the frame and consequently no center towards which they gather. ... Pollock's paintings thus stand out beyond any quality, and hence beyond any art.’ Writer and art historian Paul Nizon, on the other hand, expressed his fascination and spoke of ‘painting material that has become electric through and through,’ which ‘in its radiation opens up spatiality excited by autonomous activity without barriers or breaks’ (NZZ). But the famous ‘drip paintings’ were created only in Pollock's last creative years. Lawrence Alloway also noted in the catalog that in reality Pollock painted exclusively abstract pieces only from 1947 to 1951. In fact, the exhibition at the Kunsthaus brought together many works from the first two decades of Pollock's career, beginning in 1933, which were still clearly influenced by North American folklore (Hans Neuburg also called Pollock a ‘witch master’ because of his penchant for totemism), as well as the muralism of José Clemente Orozco, Cubism, and Surrealism. Thus, this exhibition also showed that in his short life Pollock had painted significantly more representational than abstract paintings.
no exhibition catalog online
In fact, the exhibition at the Kunsthaus brought together many works from the first two decades of Pollock's career, beginning in 1933, which were still clearly influenced by North American folklore (Hans Neuburg also called Pollock a ‘witch master’ because of his penchant for totemism), as well as the muralism of José Clemente Orozco, Cubism, and Surrealism.