Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol: two disparate American artistic identities shaped by the nature-machine dichotomy

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Publication Type thesis
School or College Master of Arts
Department Art/Art History
Creator Vergadavola, Salvatore F.
Title Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol: two disparate American artistic identities shaped by the nature-machine dichotomy
Date 2004-12
Description In 1942, in response to Hans Hofmann urging him to look outside himself and seek sublimity in nature Jackson Pollock replied, "I am nature," and later moved to The Springs, a rural area on Long Island, where in the isolation of his bam/studio created his signature hand-poured canvases. Two decades later in 1963, during an interview, Andy Warhol stated, "I want to be a machine," then relocated to the hectic center of New York commercial/industrial district in a studio that he and his assistants called the "Factory," where he with the help of his collaborators mass-produced his idiosyncratic photo-silkscreen paintings. This thesis explores the natural/organic visual language of Pollock's 1950s hand-poured paintings and the industrial/artificial formal elements of Warhol's photo- silkscreen pictures as both the product and expression of the American ethos' ambivalence toward nature and technology. In other words, Pollock's ‘50s one-of-a-kind, large-scale canvases and Warhol's mass-produced paintings mirror America's bipolar tendency toward its urban-industrial and natural order, and bespeak of the inescapable, poignant condition of the American experience which simultaneously and perpetually equivocates between a state of enthusiasm and uneasiness toward its status as a highly industrialized, mass society. More precisely, Pollock and Warhol's works are the product and the expression of the perpetual dialectical conflict/relation between the cultural categories of nature and technology, a binary opposition that has shaped and continues to mold the American imagination. By keeping Pollock's ‘50s skein paintings and Warhol's ‘60s photo-silkscreen pictures central to its discussion this thesis investigates the historical, cultural, and socio-economic factors that have shaped the development of the two disparate identities of these two American artists and their work's antithetical visual language, which their mythic utterances succinctly and powerfully captured. In other words, the objective of this thesis is twofold; to place Pollock's ‘natural' visual language and Warhol's ‘industrial' stylistic elements in the lineage of the American national and artistic tradition; and to discuss their works in light of the major historical events and cultural ideas that shaped their respective decades. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to read both Pollock's 1950s skein paintings and Warhol's 1960s photo-silkscreen pictures as the quintessential products and expressions of their respective historical and cultural contexts. To be more specific, the objective of this thesis is to demonstrate that Pollock's work seems to reflect the general ‘technophobic' attitude of 1950s American society, and it appears to be the byproduct of his interaction/reaction with this society; while Warhol's work appears to be the product of his engagement with 1960s ‘technophilic' America.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Alternate Title Master of Fine Arts
Language eng
Rights Management (c)Salvatore F. Vergadavola
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 24,667 bytes
Identifier ir-mfa/id/163
ARK ark:/87278/s6bp37z3
Setname ir_mfafp
Date Created 2016-09-01
Date Modified 2016-09-15
ID 215118
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6bp37z3