In 1943, as the WPA Federal Art Project was dismantled, Jackson Pollock was commissioned to produce a large painting as the centerpiece for his first solo show at Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery Art of This Century. Although not painted directly on the wall, the immense oil on canvas measures more than 19 by 8 feet and is entitled Mural. With its all-over composition of interlaced forms and colors, the frieze-like abstraction is widely regarded as a “breakthrough” work whose significance is regularly acknowledged if not fully understood. While Pollock’s Mural is heralded as a starting point in American art, this talk will address the artist’s conception of the painting as a mural, exploring the ways in which it was a willful continuation of more than a decade of large-scale public painting in the United States, and also how it was used to set the agenda for postwar abstraction.
Dr Jody Patterson is Associate Professor in Art History at the University of Plymouth. She completed her PhD at University College London and has held Terra Foundation Fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum, Washington, DC and the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris. Her research interests lie in the field of public art and the relations between art and politics. Her work has appeared in numerous books, exhibition catalogues, and journals. Her manuscript Modernism for the Masses is forthcoming with Yale University Press in February 2019.
Organised by Professor David Peters Corbett (The Courtauld)