The name "Composition" is given to a number of American artist Jackson Pollock's highly abstract paintings that do not have titles or clear subject matter represented in them. Pollock was at the forefront of American modern art in the 20th century. Many of his works, including the compositions, hang in famous museums across the world, private collections and in high-end art galleries.
Jackson Pollock began painting in the late 1920s in New York City, where he was influenced by a variety of emerging styles, including both the Surrealists and the Mexican master Muralists. By the late 1930s, he was working for the Federal Art Project. Soon thereafter, he began painting in a completely abstract manner. In about 1947, his trademark dip and splash style emerged, which brought him both fame and controversy. His "compositions" date from all of these periods and incorporate many of these different influences.
Pollock's early compositions, those dating from the 1930s to the early 1940s, are highly abstract, but they often feature objects that are quasi-recognizable. In the piece "Composition circa 1938--1941," for example, shapes drift, float and are warped around a background that seems to include a horizon line between the green Earth and a black night sky. Elements of cubism also are evident in this work and in other Pollock works from this era.
After Pollock found his creative signature with the dip and splash technique, he still continued to produce compositions, including the famous "Composition 1948." This piece is a large canvas painting that currently hangs in the New Orleans Museum of Art. It incorporates four colors: red, blue, black and white, which are overlaid in a series of splashes. Jackson was in motion as he painted this piece, dancing across the canvas; the splashing lines of color record his movements and his energy.
The meaning of Pollock's paintings is an issue that has been hotly contested, with some saying that his techniques were merely gimmicks and others arguing he was one of the most important artists of the century. According to art critics, much of what was represented in the composition paintings represents internal dialogue, conflicts and revelations of Pollock himself. Many of his most successful works were painted during his period of sobriety, from the late 1940s to the early 1950s, including his most famous composition pieces.
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