Jackson Pollock American

Not on view

Pasiphaë confronts the viewer with a maelstrom of swirling and angular lines and broken forms, all pressed up to the front of the picture plane—an allover effect later seen in Pollock's "drip" canvases. The painter developed this novel interpretation of the Surrealist technique of automatism (which taps the artist’s unconscious to compose the image) by creating dozens of colored drawings. Amid the chaos are barely discernible sentinel-like forms on both sides of a prostrate figure in the center. Pollock originally called this painting Moby Dick, but he retitled it after hearing the story of the Cretan princess Pasiphaë, who gave birth to the half-man, half-bull Minotaur. Throughout World War II, many artists mined classical mythology’s vast repository of tragic tales of war, struggle, and loss.

Pasiphaë, Jackson Pollock (American, Cody, Wyoming 1912–1956 East Hampton, New York), Oil on canvas

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