Even a century since his birth, American “splatter artist” Jackson Pollock still provokes heated debate about the very definition of art.
Was a man who placed a canvas on the floor and dripped paint straight from the can actually creating a work of art?
“It’s very hard if you try to build the paint up to this extent with this many colors and not achieve mud,” says National Gallery of Art curator Harry Cooper.
“He didn’t achieve mud here — I think he achieved something quite beautiful,” Cooper tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. “And in the process, he opened up a whole new way of thinking about what a painting could be, how you could make a painting, what it could do in an abstract way.”
The public perception at the time, though, was distinctly different than that of art critics.
“In the popular mind, he was Jack the Dripper,” Cooper says. “I think all of those feelings and associations have remained with the work, no matter how many books and how many retrospectives he has.”