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Wood’s American Gothic Vs. Pollock’s Number 1

22 Jul 2017

The focal point of this paper is to present a comparison between two distinct and different form of art. One is Grant Wood’s American Gothic, 1930, in the form of Regionalism/American Scene and the other is Jackson Pollock’s Number 1 (Lavender Mist), 1950, of the gesture painting/Abstract Expressionism school. These are two opposing thought process of painting and this makes the comparison more interesting and though provoking.

American Gothic (29¼ × 24½ in or 74.3 × 62.4 cm) is an artwork painted with Oil on beaverboard and is currently located in Art Institute of Chicago. This painting portrays a farmer couple in the Gothic style. The man is holding a pitchfork in front of village house with a younger woman. This image is an icon by itself in the context of 20th century American art and the artist manifested the hard work of livelihood through these rural couple. However, he composed his subjects in the form of photography of the 19th century posture and it resembles the early American portraiture. (Fletcher, 2005)

On the other hand Jackson Pollock’s Number 1 (Lavender Mist), (7 ft 3 in x 9 ft 10 in or 221 x 300 cm) is located in National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and is a painting painted on canvas with aluminum, enamel and oil. Jackson Pollock's work presents the energy of the universe through abstract line formulation that may be termed as galactic in nature. The basic form of this painting could be ascertained as abstract expressionism and there is no denial to this classification because this painting satisfies the sub altar manifestation of decentralized imaginative functions. Therefore, in accordance to the grammatical representation of art this painting by Jackson Pollock is certainly a work of art as opposed by many. (Lamb, 2004)

While Wood’s American Gothic is more traditional in nature Jackson Pollock's Number 1 (Lavender Mist), has often been dubbed as an arbitrary composition of paint. However, it should be noted that the age of classical art forms are long discarded by artists from the days of impressionist art movements after the invention of photographic plates. Therefore, it is obvious that the six principals of classical art could not be the evaluating criteria for any modern art form. Nevertheless, it should be considered that at present we have moved a long way from realism through the realm of postmodern era and at this point of time such comments cannot be appended or appreciated as structuralism is no longer considered as inseparable aspect of an art form.

This painting is chiefly pained on the basis of drip technique by Pollock. Here these elements are arranged in an aesthetic manner so that the urban vibe is well understood by the audience. Furthermore, it should also be stated that the arrangement of the entire canvas is well formulated on the longitudinal for to tendency of stretched time and space in the social context of an urban environment. This is juxtaposed by the essential yet unconventional elements and thus the complete impact of the painting is well nourished and delivered to the viewers where the linear configurations would be manifested with these day to day objects. (Lamb, 2004)

Here lies the chief difference between the two artists. While Wood is more traditional and looks into the art form of an era long gone, Pollock is more futuristic when form of art is concerned. This is a comparison of forms and art era even though both the artists belong to the similar timeframe. However, it should be noted that the age of classical art forms are long discarded by artists from the days of impressionist art movements after the invention of photographic plates. Therefore, it is obvious that the six principals of classical art could not be the evaluating criteria for any modern art form.

Nevertheless, it should be considered that at present we have moved a long way from realism through the realm of postmodern era and at this point of time such comments cannot be appended or appreciated as structuralism is no longer considered as inseparable aspect of an art form. In this context, these two artists are in the same bracket as though Wood presented a picture in the format of traditional approach, it can be stated that his way of looking at the subject is more of an urban look rather then blending with the composition itself. Thus, at times it appears that Wood actually is making a humorous point by indicating the age difference between the man and the wife in a rural setting. (Fletcher, 2005) Thus, both these artists are part of the urban art movement rather then conflicting in the context of art forms.

Thus, it appears that the perception of these paintings appears to be formulated by a number of aspects of the modern era along with its complexities and the basic ideology was based on the progression of art where basic issue was represented, as life should reflect the inner self of the human mind. It could well be stated that the progression of colors in the painting represent the darker aspects of the human mind. It can also be mentioned that this progression is not independent in any sense because art in the ultimate context has been following the traditional values of the society whether by following it or contradicting it. Here we find the artists reflecting their ideas of the urban self-complexities.

References:

  • Fletcher, R; (2005); Art Principals: Beliefs and Knowledge; Believing and Knowing; Dunedin: Howard & Price
  • Lamb, D; (2004); Cult to Culture: The Development of Civilization; Wellington: National Book Trust

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