Going West 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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Was Going West homage to Benton's work?

There are definitely similarities: the Regionalism in Benton’s work is indicated in Going West by the heroic subject and Pollock’s use of broad, gestural brushstrokes.

However, unlike Benton, Pollock increasing incorporated modern European art and abstraction into his paintings to reflect and express his changing experiences of life in modern America. It is reported that Thomas Hart Benton boasted that Pollock had uncovered "the essential rhythms" of art, under his tutorship.

Going West (c.1934-1935) shows a journey of a frontier, riding across the American outback, in pursuit of the American Dream. It is believed that the inspiration for the setting came from Pollock’s own life: there is a Pollock family photograph of a similar bridge in Cody, where Jackson was born, in the state of Wyoming.

The composition, with the swirling patterns in grey, black and blue draw your attention to the centre of the painting.

The moon illuminates the surrounding undulating landscape, contrasting with the dark edges. Painted in oil on fibreboard, the placing of the moon and the illuminated surroundings has been interpreted as the face of God, lighting the way for the settlers, as they colonised America.

Early on in his career, Jackson Pollock explored a narrative artistic style, partly inspired by late nineteenth-century painters (e.g. Pinkhom Ryder) and their subject matter.

Pollock attended the painter David Alfaro Siqueiros’ (1896-1974) experimental workshop and he also studied the artwork of Mexican muralists. Pollock was still a relatively unknown artist, so he was largely financially dependent on grants from the American Government’s Federal Arts Project. However, Going West proved to be a critical point in his development as an artist.

The artistic style of Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) is claimed to have influenced Pollock’s early artwork, and especially Going West. The muralist Benton had taught art to Pollock at the New York Art Students League.