Comparison of Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns
To begin with, Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns made a great contribution into the world of art. In the postwar period, the shift toward aesthetic sensitivity was very important, as the humankind needed a better alternative to conflicts and to wars. Both artists knew their mission, as they were led by their own inner intentions coming from above, so to speak. This influence is well reflected in their paintings. However, the paper focuses on two works, namely: Number 1A, 1948 by Jackson Pollock and Flag, 1954-55 by Jasper Johns. Thus, a comparison of two artworks shows a unique composition of abstract reality going hand in hand with a fast-paced development of the world in the post-war period. First of all, it is vital to describe the Pollock’s work in detail. The artist tried to make it both easy and complicated in one to rest assured an observer would admit the abstract vision of the broken world where values fall short of being strong in the minds of human beings. In fact, Number 1A is an exemplification of Pollock’s thoughts which appear from different sides of the canvas (Lanchner 26).
The artist scattered canvases in order to find out where to start off. His vision is different, as he strives for more expressionist way of reaction. With this work, he claims to put forward smart and deep ideas ordinary people will not see at a glance. It is a process of self-conscientious observation which may take hours for an aficionado. To say more, Pollock was short-spoken towards the art he produced. This is why, since 1948 he made up his mind not to give too many words to the titles of his paintings (Solomon 188). His main attention was paid to the right use of paint in order to reflect the same vision of colors on the viewers. This way of enthusiasm in Pollock manifests his indifference to ordinary and unsophisticated observers. Instead, Pollock lets a viewer watch the things as they are. In other words, titles made things complicated, as they added to confusion (Solomon 189).
On the other hand, numbers did not highlight some sense in it making it easier for a viewer to focus more on the painting itself. Number 1A is a pure art of an artist, as it highlights the gist of the artistic thought shared by Jackson Pollock. Moreover, Pollock takes advantage of “drip” painting which resembles a multitude of dots and touches in a random order. Number 1A demonstrates this ensemble of the artist’s touches in conjunction with the inner sense of his own imagination. The combination of aluminum paint with ordinary household enamel gives this painting a fantastic reflection of how the artist scatters his ideas on canvas (Lanchner 26). It is a mere extent of disgrace and satisfaction which stand opposite to each other. On the other side, the painting represents a wide scope of different details. For instance, only an accurate observer will notice handprints in the upper side of the painting and silhouettes of different parts of a human body in the lower part thereof. Dripping or pouring paint on canvas was a way to self-expression for Jackson Pollock. He could manage to realize his ability in outlining the most pivotal features of the painting. His focus is on “pure color and large, arm and body-sized gestures” (Chang 141).
It was especially necessary to shed light on the meaning of paint and color. Here lies the magnificence of the pure art. Here one finds out the vast majority of impressions and hidden meanings of objects. Number 1A is a complex combination of what one sees from the very beginning and what he/she adds to it gaining the truth of the artwork thereafter. Pollock seeks understanding of these two major realities one faces each time the exhibition takes place. It is a message for further generations fallen into the pit of fallacies which the modern world presents people with. As a result, human mind and soul are left empty. Pollock tries to fulfill this emptiness through a thorough observation of his artwork. This is why Pollock refers himself to the emotional as well as visual language of Abstract Expressionism which he follows in Number 1A as well as in other paintings created by the master afterwards (Chang 141). Furthermore, masterpieces of art are rarely well accepted by collectors at the very beginning. However, Pollock knew that and did not conform to the mainstream vision of the art. This is why he had become one of the major American artists of his time. Conversely, Jasper Johns demonstrates his vision of the well-known simple things in a quite different way. Flags are always full of patriotic feelings aimed at people of definite countries. They demonstrate the strength, coherence, and power of particular nations. Moreover, flags underline the historical, religious, and political features of countries they belong to. Johns illustrates his own conception of a flag which is well-known due to his painting called Flag. His way of painting is known as encaustic painting which is really hard to implement (Lee 113).
The artist is meticulous to the main details of the American Flag. He considers his work more like a painting, rather than the figure of the national unity. It illustrates “the synonymy between an image (the flag) and its ground (the limits of the picture surface) to unbalance the relationship between the term picture and painting” (Lee 113). Hence, Johns was led by his imagination in describing the flag as a combination of newspaper stripes, three canvases and encaustic paint. He prescribes more sensual and expressive representation of a common object in order to run the gamut of the emotions for an ordinary viewer. By and large, the impression is really high, as a divine touch in the painting makes it shine bright against the common representation of the American Flag. To a degree, Johns replicates the vision of Pollock, but in real implication of an object without additions of some abstract features. That is to say, Johns amplifies the easiness of perception through the easiness of imagination. It is as if the artist steps forward in assisting a viewer to make the whole painting plain. Definitely, Johns shows his adoration and devotion to printmaking which “was well suited to his artistic concerns of repetition and change” (Moorhead 26). He established a new “stage” for a viewer to think about common objects in light of current artistic transformation. Furthermore, he obliged himself to making images live and as impressive as possible. Changing the ink and adjusting different kinds of paper, Johns makes an attempt to redefine the sense of artistic freedom through the materials an artist uses (Moorhead 26). This is the same way Pollock followed in his artworks. The significance of color and paint used in the painting was primordial for both artists.
Flag is a simple representation of the artist’s vision of it through the lenses of time demands. It is a so-called representation of an artistic work in the realm of viewers’ imagination. This non-art object of massive consumption redevelops the meaning of ubiquitous things which people disregard as something unique due to the tries of Jasper Johns (Nelson and Shiff 459). A simple object can become a work of art if a divine talent of an artist once focused on transforming simplicity into complexity. Such a metamorphosis was common for Johns, as he tried to overgrow the mainstream or ordinary way of thinking about objects around people. Keeping in mind the sense of form and function, the artist imparts “complex facture (bits of newsprint and other detritus embedded in tinted encaustic)” into the American flag (Nelson and Shiff 459). His ostensibly strict attention to the details reveals the truth of his delicate use of different materials which parade themselves as the only features to be further discussed as the accelerators of an artistic taste among viewers. Needless to say, Johns worked largely with the representation of the work, rather than interpretation thereof. Hereby, he leads a viewer toward a transcendent implication of the meaning a single flag can give. However, unlike Pollock, Johns saved the initial self-explanatory title of his artwork, even though the first word a viewer would say looking at this painting is a flag. Given that, Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns are marked as the most influential American artists during the 1950s. Moreover, a comparison of two artworks shows a unique composition of abstract reality going hand in hand with a fast-paced development of the world in the post-war period. Number 1A represents an abstract form of expression which presupposes some inner world of the artists through a masterful use of paint and colors.
Flag is a reframe of the common object through the complex implementation of materials the artist used to make it clear for ordinary viewers. Both artists aimed at focusing more on the graphical representation of their paintings in order to touch upon viewers’ minds and souls more powerfully. Notably, this push was successful for both.
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