Jackson Pollock, Art Gallery

Cool Jazz and Hard Bop: Painting and Picturing the Jazz Experience

Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm(Number 30), 1950. Oil on canvas, 8' 9" x 17' 3"(266.7 x 525.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Abstract Expressionist movement(also known as action painting and the New York School) emerged in New York City in the mid-1940s and attained prominence in American art in the following decade. Abstract expressionism celebrated the "accidents" that occur while painting and the glorification of the act of painting itself. The movement was also the first important school to declare independence from European styles and to influence art abroad.

New York painter Jackson Pollock(1912-1956) was an unquestionable leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement. His above 1950 work Autumn Rhythm(Number 30), exemplifies the careful balance between accident and control that characterizes both his art and the improvisational jazz of the period. Pollock himself was an avowed jazz fan, often attending live performance's at New York's Five Spot club. Critic Ellen Landau notes the influence of jazz on Pollock's painting:

As early as 1945...one prescient critic compared the "flare, spatter and fury" of Pollock's paintings to modern music...Pollock loved jazz..."rocking and rolling" for days on end to Dizzy Gillespie, Bird, Dixieland, and bebop. What undoubtedly attracted him to this type of sound was not just its rhythm and tempo, but its naked presentation of honest and deeply felt emotion...Pollock could tell his wife that jazz was "the only other creative thing happening in the country."



O'Meally, Robert G., ed. The Jazz Cadence of American Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. 178-179.

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