Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) is a 1950 abstract expressionist painting by American artist Jackson Pollock in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The work is a distinguished example of Pollock’s 1947-52 poured-painting style, and is often considered one of his most notable works.
The first documentation of the legendary 1950 showdown between 18 leading abstract expressionists and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
In 1950, 18 American abstract painters signed an open letter addressed to the president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to express their intense disapproval of the museum’s contemporaneous exhibit American Painting Today: 1950. The artists were William Baziotes, James Brooks, Fritz Bultman, Jimmy Ernst, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Weldon Kees, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Theodoros Stamos, Hedda Sterne, Clyfford Still and Bradley Walker Tomlin.
This artistic coalition, which included many members of the New York School and is now considered a watershed movement in mid-20th-century American art history, challenged the museum’s policies for their narrow understanding of what made certain art worth exhibiting. Though they resisted being labeled as a collective, media coverage of the museum boycott, which included a now-famous group portrait in Life magazine taken by photographer Nina Leen, ultimately contributed to the success of the 18 “irascibles” in what became known as the abstract expressionist movement.
This publication collects 18 paintings by the artists, images from Leen’s photoshoot and extensive documentation of the letter-writing process with relevant catalogs and magazines. Featuring more than 230 illustrations alongside original essays by several art historians and curators that examine the complex history of the New York School, this volume serves as a time capsule of the exciting period of early abstract expressionism in the United States.
From PLOS One Journal online release:
We conclude that Pollock avoided the appearance of the hydrodynamic instabilities, contrary to what was argued by previous studies. Pollock selected the physical properties of the paint to prevent filament fragmentation before deposition, and applied it while moving his hand sufficiently fast and at certain heights to avoid fluid filaments from coiling into themselves. An understanding of the physical conditions at which these patterns were created is important to further art research and it can be used as a tool in the authentication of paintings.
Considered one of the most prominent American painters of the 20th century, the life and work of Jackson Pollock have been the subject of books, movies, and documentaries [1–3]. His paintings can be broadly categorized as being abstract-expressionist. Although his painting style evolved during his sometimes tormented life, the so-called ‘dripping’ technique is certainly the most widely recognized both by experts and the general public.
Jackson Pollock described the technique himself . In summary, Pollock would lay a canvas horizontally and pour paint on top of it, in a controlled manner. To regulate the flow of paint, he either used an instrument (a stick, knife or a brush), poured it directly from a can and in some instances he also used a syringe. Viscous fluid filaments were produced and laid over the canvas while ‘rhythmically moving’ around it. It is believed that Pollock developed this technique strongly influenced by an experimental painting workshop, organized in New York by Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1936 . Interestingly, Siqueiros himself also developed the ‘accidental painting’ technique during this workshop, which was recently analyzed by Zetina et al. .