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Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art opens Memories Arrested in Space, a centennial tribute to Jackson Pollock from the Archives of American Art

The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art presents “Memories Arrested in Space, a centennial tribute to Jackson Pollock from the Archives of American Art” on view January 28, 2012 – May 15, 2012.

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner’s marriage certificate, 1945 Oct 25. Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner papers. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) is an American icon. Creator of rhythmic and energetic “action painting,” he is internationally hailed as a leading figure in Abstract Expressionism.

Born in Wyoming and raised in Arizona and California, he moved to New York City in 1930. Working through a variety of influences, from Regionalism and Surrealism to Native American art, Pollock arrived at a unique pictorial language that he called “direct painting,” which created the visual equivalent of emotions and sensations. The technique was also a channel for positive energy and an antidote to Pollock’s own internal conflicts.

Although Pollock’s career was short–a mere 12 years between his first solo exhibition and his last–he decisively shaped the direction of painting after World War II. Both his art and his personality fulfilled the needs of an era that questioned traditional cultural values and hailed individual freedom of expression.

Pollock’s singular history is richly documented in the Archives of American Art, principally in the papers donated by his wife, the painter Lee Krasner (1908–1984), but also in those of his eldest brother Charles (1902–1988), and of his friends and associates. This exhibition, its title taken from one of Pollock’s own statements, celebrates the centenary of his birth, the magnitude of his achievement, and his enduring legacy. – Helen A. Harrison Guest Curator.

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