Jackson Pollok’s Mural
– A Halfway State from Easel to Mural
In July 1943, Jackson Pollock was commissioned
to create a mural-sized painting for the entrance hall
of Peggy Guggenheim’s town house in New York. He
painted the work, titled Mural, in December 1943 or
during the first weeks of January of the next year.
Later, Pollock described this work as a precedent in a
new genre of “large movable pictures which will
function between the easel and mural”, which he
intended to create.
This paper aims to demystify this function
between easel and mural through the examination of
the formal structure of Mural, shedding light on the
importance of figurative forms he drew in the work.
First, I will examine the way in which he made
the composition, comparing it with Picasso’s
“curvilinear cubist” paintings around the second half
of the 1920s, which Pollock studied at that time.
Second, I will analyze the formal structure of the
work by introducing Rosalind Krauss ‘interpretation
of Picasso’s collage which redefines collage as
Saussure’s sign system, a relationship between
signifier and signified. And Finally, I will discuss the
work’s effect towards viewers and consider its quality
as a mural.
Like Picasso, Pollock made small planes in his
Mural. However, unlike Picasso’s, Pollock’s planes
don’t function as signifier since they don’t have
difference. He, instead, introduced pictographic
figures among the planes and emphasized materiality
of them to give viewers spatial and tactile effects.By
doing so,Mural functions as a field in which viewers
can perceive graphic signs physically. To conclude,
this field is the half way state from easel to mural
that Pollock aimed to realize.
Jackson Pollok, Abstract Expressionism, Mural