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Jackson Pollock painted the simply titled Number 8 in 1949, at the height of his mastery of the Abstract Expressionist technique he had developed.
The process of dropping and dripping paint from cans, the ends of sticks, stiffened brushes and other objects is what Pollock became most famous for. It represents a period during the height of his career and provided unique works that are as singular today as when they were executed.
Pollack strived to free his art from the restrictions of form and content. Those looking at works such as Number 8 and who seek to identify content will be disappointed; there are no discernable forms or objects, no depictions of fields, seas, skies or landscapes.
The colours are woven in a masterful pattern that is inspired by Pollock’s unity with his subconscious as it flowed through his hands in time to the jazz music he played whilst working.
Dominated by greens, touched with the usual rust and yellow of Pollock's regular palette, Number 8 weaves a pattern of swirling lines that thicken to form, at some intervals, almost solid shapes that nonetheless remain fluid.
No one place on the canvas holds the attention without leading it to another part, and on and on in a seemingly never-ending flow of colour and lines, intersecting, intertwining and meshing.
The flowing colours thicken at times, almost threatening to take on a form that may dominate, but Pollock’s supreme draftsmanship and control avoid such an intrusion and allow the piece to continue its flowing movement across the canvas.
The thickness of the paint on Pollock’s canvasses varies in places and as a result some parts of the canvas are almost in relief against the background, adding yet another dimension to the seemingly fathomless depth of the artist's work.
The patterns appear random, yet controlled; the viewer is drawn into Pollock’s expression of his subconscious, in which he sought to free himself from the constraints of formal form and the execution of his art.