Jackson Pollock was discovered in 1943 by the critic Clement Greenberg and turned into the highest representative of North American abstract expressionism. With his dripping technique, he practised a kind of painting known as “action painting”. It consists in “acting” on a horizontal canvas, freeing all feelings and passions inside of the artist.
According to Stonor Saunders, the choice of Pollock is not casual but planned to export American abstract expressionism in particular. Pollock’s attitude makes him a figure that perfectly represents the solitary man, the American manliness. Who better than him to wrap up the creation of a new American artistic movement?
In Avant-garde and kitsch (1939), Greenberg upholds a genuine art from United States that has nothing to do with avant garde in Europe and overcomes realism. It’s important to consider the context: realism had been used by either communism and fascism to enhance their political figures and the establishment. The autonomy of art and the formal experimentation were the perfect solution to distance from a European continent swarmed with fascism.
All Greenberg’s theoretical corpus is gathered together in Modernist painting (1963), where the main characteristics are addressed: plain shapes, abstract composition, big format and unity. Allan Krapow developed with his art two important matters that Greenberg forgot: the interaction with the canvas and the introduction to happening.
If you want to dig in this topic, there is some bibliography you can check for more information:
Avant-garde and kitsch, Clement Greenberg
How New York stole the idea of modern art, Serge Gibault
Modernist painting, Clement Greenberg
The Cultural Cold War, Stonor Saunders
Featured image: Josh Wilburne (Unsplash)