Pondering Pollock




In “On Weaving a Basket,” Ingold attempts to “bring these [baskets] products of human activity back to life” (346) through an analysis of basket weaving.  In reading his articles, I kept thinking of Jackson Pollock as a possible illustration of Ingold’s argument. Pollock’s paintings (perhaps) could be considered as examples both of the materiality of paint in the way it reacts with air, gravity, and  the surface of the canvas in addition to evoking immediately the image of the artist painting it.

The effect can perhaps most clearly be seen by comparing his paintings with other works. For example, in  Tamara de Lempicka’s “Portrait of a Young Girl in a Green Dress (1930),” the viewer’s eyes are drawn to the image of the girl, her use of colors and angular shapes, but not necessarily the paint or the relational process of Lempicka painting:


Whereas in Pollock’s painting below, the lack of an identifiable form (dare I say image?), which Gell may argue demonstrates the painting’s agency in provoking a frustrated or confused response from the recipient, actually brings the materiality of the painting, and its production, to life:


Pollock’s paintings remind us that movement is “truly generative of the object.” Is it fair then to envision Pollock’s paintings as an example of what Ingold may term “making as a way of painting”?  Would Ingold see Pollock’s paintings as different from Lempicka, or is it simply that Lempicka’s paintings more effectively hide the material process of its creation? (Perhaps because it “wants” us to focus on the image and our own imagined story of the girl depicted?) 


4 Responses to “Pondering Pollock”

  1. narfe Says:

    Laura, what a GREAT example! Thank you for those images.

  2. Sydney Says:

    Gell too singled out Jackson Pollack as an illustrative example of artistic process.

    “They have no subject at a ll except the agency of Jackson Pollack himself; they are (non-representational) self-portraits of a man in frenzied ballistic activity (Art & Agency, p. 33).”

    In contrast to Ingold, Gell privileges artistic agency over the materials.

  3. R Says:

    concrete poetry-

  4. Jocuri abilitate Says:

    Great blog post. Really looking forward to read more

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