The Deep 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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The Deep is indicative of the later styles used by artist Pollock as he simplified the colour and content in his work

The Deep is a unique work within the career of Jackson Pollock and has inspired considerable discussion and debate around the symbolism used in this painting.

This artwork came late on in Pollock's life, just a few years before his unfortunate passing.

It is an example of how this period in his life forged a link between his art and his mood, with the artist reducing colour and output in equal measure.

It was clear that alcoholism was impacting everything in the artist's life and was slowly but surely dragging him down.

In this piece, you will not see the bright colour of Convergence, but simpler grayscale shades which underlined Pollock's slightly new artistic path.

Pollock uses black and white paint to produce most of the piece, but does add a little yellow just to provide a break from the grayscale contrast.

The title of this artwork, and the content and style of it, have opened the door for discussion over the symbolism used by Pollock here but without really answering any questions. Many have debated whether it is a hole with deeper meaning, or perhaps an injury. We simply don't know.

At a time when the artist himself was lost, both within his troubled personal life and also his desire for a new approach to his art, it maybe that this chasm represents a part of the artist's mind, holding a desire to disappear into the abyss.

Alternatively, it maybe where he visualises his feelings or secrets residing, with him unwilling to look inside to discover more about them.

The colour balance used here by Pollock can be summed up perfectly by a quote from fellow abstract artist, Wassily Kandinsky, in his book titled On the Spiritual in Art.

It was not for nothing that white was chosen as the vestment of pure joy and immaculate purity. And black as the vestment of the greatest, most profound mourning and as the symbol of death. The balance between these two colors that is achieved by mechanically mixing them together forms gray. Naturally enough, a color that has come into being in this way can have no external sound, nor display any movement. Gray is toneless and immobile. This immobility, however, is of a different character from the tranquility of green, which is the product of two active colors and lies midway between them. Gray is therefore the disconsolate lack of motion. The deeper this gray becomes, the more the disconsolate element is emphasized, until it becomes suffocating.

There are elements of this painting which remind us of the Rorschach Test, where people's feelings and visions from a truly abstract object will help us to learn more about them.

In a way, this is typical of abstract expressionism as a whole, some will see a selection of colours randomly placed on a canvas, whilst others will find meaning, symbolism and reflect much of their own personality as they go.

Critic Clement Greenberg studied Jackson Pollock style and colours before concluding on a resemblance to the gothic darkness of "Melville, Hawthorne, Poe", particularly with The Deep (1953), which then followed on several years afterwards.