The abstract paintings of the American artist Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) are among the highest achievements of 20th century art. One of Pollock’s masterpieces, "Blue Poles," is an American painting which has become an Australian icon. A key part of the art history of Australia, its controversial purchase in 1973 by the National Gallery of Australia was a sign for some of Australia’s economic and cultural dependence on the United States. For others it was a sign that Australia was entering a new world in which traditional ties could be broken, and cultural and economic allegiances were open to negotiation.
This catalogue brings together a selection of Pollock’s works that help to situate "Blue Poles" in the broader development of the artist’s career. Ranging in date from 1933 to 1952 and covering painting, drawing, and printmaking, the works show the diversity of Pollock’s interests, which included Mexican mural painting, French Surrealism, and Native American art.
The essays look at "Blue Poles" from three different perspectives. The introduction examines the artist’s life and work leading up to 1952, followed by a discussion of "Blue Poles" and its place in Pollock’s oeuvre. Another essay discusses the first exhibition of the painting in new York in 1952 and identifies an important shift that was taking place in the artist’s work. The last essay takes a personal look at the reception of "Blue Poles" in the United States and Australia from 1970s to the present.
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