Jackson Pollock in the process of his energetic “action painting” (Image: Hans Namuth)
The Black Paintings don’t tend to figure prominently, if at all, in discussions of Pollock’s oeuvre. Certainly, the customary view is that he and his art declined in an alcoholic spiral during the Fifties – culminating in his drunk-at-the-wheel demise, aged 44.
A major Pollock retrospective at MOMA in 1998 included just nine of his Black Paintings, a sign of their apparent insignificance. Tate’s show is the biggest gathering of them ever in one place.
Gone are the colours of old; this is simply black enamel paint on white cotton-duck canvas. Pollock also eschewed his splash-and-dash technique, in favour of a more controlled application of paint with a turkey baster.
Critics often struggle to discuss abstract art, for the simple reason nothing is depicted. Ultimately,