Easter and the Totem Jackson Pollock Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Abstraction and surrealism combine to add diversity to Pollock's career

The original painting is a 6' 10 1/8" x 58" (208.6 x 147.3cm) oil on canvas and the style is reminiscent of Henri Matisse and Arshile Gorky.

This creation came three years after Jackson Pollock's farewell to the drip-style that brought him fame and high-demand for new paintings. Pollock's status and search for a new form of expression had a significant impact on his frustration and alcoholism.

Easter and the Totem came just after a period of devotion to black from Pollock. The use of the colour black in vertical blocks along the painting bring light to the figures on either side, similarly to the style employed by Matisse in Bathers by a River.

Pollock's paintings often reflected the beliefs of Matisse, who expressed profusely on the power of black as a colour and giver of light. Unfortunately, Pollock's previous black drip creations were poorly received at the time.

The tall totemic forms on the left and right of Easter and the Totem resemble the stone sculptures found on Easter Island.

There is a quality of natural expression to Pollock's creations that show his multitude of inspiration, not only from modern European expression but from ancient art forms; having experienced Native American culture while accompanying his father on surveying trips. Easter and the Totem is the only known Jackson Pollock self-portrait.

The facial expression on the image of a young Pollock appears to be sorrowful due to the dark rings under the eyes, possibly relating to his tumultuous relationship with his father.

The clash of abstraction and figuration that existed throughout Pollock's career is evident in Easter and the Totem. It is arguably one of the most self-reflective paintings by Pollock, created two years before the car accident that took his life.