Pollock's Mural: Energy Made Visible

Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943, oil and casein on canvas, 242.9 x 603.9 cm Gift of
Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943, oil and casein on canvas, 242.9 x 603.9 cm Gift of Peggy Guggenheim, 1959 (University of Iowa Museum of Art)

Anna McNay reviews Jackson Pollock's Mural: Energy Made Visible at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, on view through November 16, 2015.

McNay writes: "Mural (1943) expounds a tension between emotional outburst and Pollock’s command of style, form and handling – something he maintained, even in his apparently automatic and uncontrolled pouring works to come. There is an emotive mix of the public and the private and the larger brushstrokes seem to breathe, expel air and revitalise. Colours of life (yellow, red, green) intermingle with that of death (black) and there are many different forms of mark-making, including some flicking and speckling – the first forerunners of his (in)famous dripping and pouring. The viewer is carried in a whirlwind of motion across the canvas, picked up, propelled, dropped down, swallowed into the deep vortices, spun around, and picked up again. Across the top, heads appear, thrown back, mouths agape, screaming – echoing the horrors of Guernica. But this is not a horrific work. It is not unsettling, despite the storm of movement and outpouring of feeling. It is vigorous, compelling and hopeful."