Jackson Pollock became the symbol of New American Painting after world war 2 when New York became the centre of the art world. It was a time when artists began to derive inspiration from their unconscious and Jung and Freud theories offered insight to discovering themselves. Their theories further gave justification to the abstract expressionist automatic method of painting which developed metaphors for the 'collective unconscious'.
Pollock's painting Cathedral 1947, is one of his first drip paintings. Such paintings were the first form of complete abstraction which Kandinsky and Picasso had previously used only to a degree. As it is pure abstraction, the painting is subjective and emotional, deriving its content from the unconscious of the artist. A sense of rhythm and unity is created through the surface texture and numerous amounts of spidery lines. Although spontaneity played a major role in the production of this painting, there is an intricacy and delicacy, an airy grace.
These drip paintings were given the name 'action paintings' by the critic Harold Rosenburg, who had significant influence on people's interpretation of Pollock's work. He coined the name from the creative process Pollock used when painting.
The canvas was generally placed on the floor so it could be easily accessed from all sides. The painting was created from the artist's body movements, energy and subconscious as the canvas became a platform for the artist to act on rather than to recreate. "When I'm in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose...