On the occasion of the exhibitions A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance at Tate Modern (through April 1) and Explosion! The Legacy of Jackson Pollock at the Fundació Joan Miró (through Feb 24), Stephen Moonie considers the history of "painting and performance in relation to one another." He asserts that "it is evident that painting can no longer be taken for granted: instead it operates within an expanded field across and between media."
He concludes: "What is clear... is that performance and painting are closely intertwined, and that the relationship between the two works both ways: painting is not only a pathway into performance, but that many aspects of performance equally lead back into painting..."
Coombs writes that performance art "can be an exhausting medium with little room for the sort of contemplation possible in front of a painting. The form itself is ephemeral and disappears as soon as the performance is over and often the only evidence that such a thing ever happened is through a photograph or a film... This is ironic given that performance art is a continuation, and some might say completion, of the modernist drive towards actuality. It articulates its form through a real body, a real presence, and gives its subjects, which are often imbued with political urgency, a condition of actual being. The disadvantage with it is that, as with events in real life, it is over so very quickly, and often we encounter it most readily through the mediated form of photography or film, a translation of actuality into a fiction. Painting, in comparison, seems embarrassingly immediate."
Robert Goodnough's classic 1951 narration of Jackson Pollock's studio process.
In addition to documenting Pollock's now familiar drip technique, Goodnough also reveals the lesser known aspects of Pollock's method. Goodnough writes: "The final work on the painting was slow and deliberate. The design had become exceedingly complex and had to be brought to a state of complete organization. When finished and free from himself the painting would record a released experience. A few movements in white paint constituted the final act and the picture was hung on the wall; then the artist decided there was nothing more he could do with it. Pollock felt that the work had become 'concrete'—he says that he works 'from the abstract to the concrete,' rather than vice versa: the painting does not depend on reference to any object or tactile surface, but exists 'on its own.' "
To introduce his article on the "the visual anxiety that American painters feel when confronted with the European visual traditions," Mark Stone posts a revealing (and poignant) video of Clement Greenberg discussing Jackson Pollock's anxiety about whether his all-over drip technique was really "Painting."
Stone proposes that Pollock's inner-struggle is one that continues to affect contemporary American painters. He writes that Greenberg "makes clear that Pollock wanted to return to the Impressionists, to learn from them. And for me this points to our own continuing conundrum about painting. Pollock wanted to learn about painterly vision in Nature, about the way the Impressionists would see and paint through time instead of seeing and painting in time – visual culture versus experiential culture."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.