Jackson Pollock And Richard Long, A Comparative Story Through Their Steps

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Jackson Pollock and Richard Long, a comparative story through their steps

Maybe never as these days we had the desire to walk and take free steps. For centuries, the creative act was more or less that, static. The authors faced their works from a small space. With the arrival of European avant -garde, at the beginning of the 20th century, there is a crisis of traditional artistic concepts, as well as the modes of production and reception. The dream world of Dadaists and surrealists opened a path of freedom in creation, which germinated curiously in the United States, in the "stupor time" as Valeriano Bozal would say, the years around World War II, which splashed from existential anguish to the world. We always look at an artist’s manual gesture, but … and the steps that made that work possible? 

Jackson Pollock (Cody, 1912-Springs, 1956) is the best answer that Stuart Davis’s question could obtain “Is there an American art?". The "White Swan" of Clement Greenberg leads the American avant -garde, centralized in abstract expressionism in the postwar period. To reach his most classic style, he left for figurative surrealism, from automatism, the iconography of the unconscious and Jungian psychoanalysis. Plasma, through these first works, an inner world that comes out violently, such as the force of nature. Greenberg in ‘Art Chronicle’ will speak, in words that sound us, of the necessary confinement for genius to arise from social isolation, the retreat in search of Kantian autonomy, and thus get an authentic work, far from European influences. But it is difficult to get away from everything, especially of memories, such as visits with his father to the American native tribes. From there he will learn how to face the large canvas, weaning on the ground, in order to be able to surround him and enter or leave the steps of him as a ritual dance or choreography. 

From Siqueiros you will learn the use of liquid painting, driping, and one more ingredient was missing: music. Charlie "Bird" Parker (1920-1955) is American jazz what Pollock to painting, a revolutionary with her baby. The painter, jazz enthusiast, locked himself in his study listening to his music, but also John Cage, Anton Weber or Morton Feldman. Thus, we better understand Pollock’s work and his tangled stroke (all over composition) that may seem automatic, but that makes sense of rhythm, accompanied by feet that circulate around the canvas and that cannot stop at their sensitivity to music, that is, your being in your picture. His alcoholism is, of course, influenced the construction of an inner world that sprouted with paint drizzles. Harold Rosenberg, in "The American Action Painters" will talk about action painting, of the ring where an event is done to apply. 

Now the fundamental thing is the process and the canvas will remain as the footprint left on that path. Road that touched the day the day that mass culture began to appropriate his art, his painting became decorative, frivolous, and fashion magazines on a spoon paper used his works as a background to Cecil’s models Beaton. Back to introspection and world of personal anguish … More alcohol, road and tragic end of the Pollock path (1956). Actions such as his opened the door to interventions and happening, such as the "anthropometries" of Yves Klein (1960). Others began to walk around the world. This is the case of Richard Long (Bristol, 1945), whose steps already last six decades. Pollock was nature itself, the vital rhythm that flows; Long, however, bets on an art made on Earth and seeks an ecological claim, a struggle that has not yet ended in favor of nature and that is costing so much. His works are difficult to define: Land Art., Intervention, installation, minimal, conceptual, sculptures … problematic that affects contemporary art and that makes us think, from the current look, if Pollock was still a "classic" within the advanced path. 

"A Line Made By Walking" (Wiltshire, 1967) leads to Fame A Long. On a meadow he began to walk again and again on the same route until he left the mark of his footsteps, an act he photographed later. Like a polish canvas, the photo serves as a testimony to an act that was passenger. Even unlike American artists, such as Serra or Smithson, he will not do traumatic landscape transformations and his work will be marked through sincerity, ephemeral and the passage of time that will fade his intervention. He questions the traditional form of artistic creation, where the exploration on the ground makes him achieve a vital experience and an "abstract" idea of ​​nature, which he creates in freedom, and that brings us closer to the sublime. With Pollock also has that relationship towards the primitive and ancestral, such as the imitation of those drawings in the sand that the Indians did. Long’s actions will talk about space-time, which evades the material and relates it to concepts open by the "space race", such as the passage of biological time (Newtian prison) to the geological, placing, for example, stones aligned in a mountain. 

He has also taken his art to the exhibition halls, in the case of “Muddy Water Wall” (2016), in the CAC of Malaga, where the influence of Pollock is observed in the chorreos with mud that the British made dynamically on the support for support for middle steps. Long can’t stop while having ideas. 

As we walk refers to our concept of the world what we live in: so we are, so we build; Pollock could not leave the canvas that represented his anguish, his castration through painting. "Pollock against Pollock" will say Santos García. But if we get out of that established, closed path, as Long did, we will find new adventures that will lead us to future vital experiences. 


  • Bozal, Valeriano. Stupor time. Madrid: Siruela Editions, 2004.
  • SOLNIT, Rebecca. Wanderlust: A History of Walking. London: Penguin Books, 2001.
  • Tafalla, Marta. “Does Richard Long’s art teach us to aesthetically appreciate nature?”, Enrahonar, No. 45 (2010), Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​Servei de Publicacions: pp. 155-172.

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