I had the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra last week.
I was drawn to viewing the International Gallery – Contemporary works. The prize painting in this area is “Blue Poles”(1952) by Jackson Pollock USA 1912-1956. It was purchased in 1974 by the Gallery costing a very large amount and being a very controversial acquisition. To produce his ‘drip type paintings’ Pollock would place an unstretched canvas on the ground and then throw, drip and pour paint across it. Blue Poles is an important example of this energetic result using this method. The painting also shows the complex layering of the paint surface and I think achieves much movement. It has been painted using oil, enamel, aluminium paint, glass on canvas.
The NGA has a sign next to the painting which includes the following:
“Abstract Expressionist arts considered the act of creation the primary importance. Spontaneity allowed them to bypass the constraints of tradition, encouraging direct expression on the canvas.”
I found the painting very complex. It has constant movement created so effectively by the extended layering. When you look at it across the gallery it has a very powerful presence aided by its dramatic ‘blue poles’.