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The Moon Woman

Jackson Pollock was an American painter during the mid-1900’s. He was born in Cody, Wyoming and then grew up in Arizona and Chico, California. In his early years, he learned about Native American culture while on trips with his father. Pollock began his career when he studied at the Students’ League in New York under a regionalist painter named Thomas Hart Benton. Later, in the 1930’s, Pollock was inspired by Mexican muralists and by part of Surrealism. Following World War II, the war and the aftermath inspired a movement known as “Abstract Expressionism.” By the mid-1940’s, Pollock had started creating “drip paintings,” which had never seen before. He is known for his creation of some of the most radical abstract styles in art history. He developed the techniques like drip-and-splash and all-over painting, finding new ways to describe pictorial space. Pollock quoted, “I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.”

Jackson Pollock was heavily influenced by Pablo Picasso, especially during the 1930’s. A work that reflects Picasso’s impact on Pollock is an oil painting called The Moon Woman. It has many similarities to Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror, an oil painting with a young woman looking at her reflection. The pieces share a similar color palette, contours, and body shapes. The main resemblance is how the front and side of the face is shown. One is serene and positive, while the other is dark and closed-off. 

Among Pollock’s friends at the time was William Baizotes and Robert Motherwell, who were both affected by the imagery of Baudelaire and French symbologists. This could have affected Pollock In Baudelaire’s prose poem, he writes, “image of the fearful goddess, the fateful godmother, the poisonous nurse of all the moonstruck of the world.” The title of one of Pollock’s pieces was The Moon Woman, which depicted a woman looking at herself. Baudelaire’s poem describes a woman who was moonstruck, similar to the painting. 

His mental state at the time of making The Moon Woman also may have had a deep connection to his art. Historians found a letter from Sanford Pollock to his brother Charles in 1937 about taking Jackson to a psychiatrist. Pollock may have used art as therapy for himself because it was suggested by Henderson that he also used drawing for psychological analysis. The figures, events, and signs he showed in his pieces have been interpreted as experiences and memories of the psyche. 

Jackson Pollock’s art represented the beginning of a new era that is still present today.

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