American painter Jackson Pollock was a pioneer of ‘Abstract Expressionism.’ He painted his groundbreaking work, “Number 1 (Lavender Mist),” in 1950, on a huge canvas of 7’3″ x 9’10”, using an innovative style of ‘Drip’ painting. “Number 1 (Lavender Mist)” is a mesmerizing explosion of colors, such as light blue, dusty pink, gray, white, and black, which as a blend together impart a lavender hue. Therefore, art critic Clement Greenberg gave it the name “Lavender Mist.”
There is a distinct absence of any subject matter or context in the painting. Jackson Pollock intended the viewers to decipher the painting as per their own subconscious. In harmony, Pollock just numbered his painting instead of naming it, because he wanted his work to be viewed without any pre-conceived ideas. “Number 1 (Lavender Mist)” looks like an intricate web of colors, spread violently over the canvas. Pollock simply placed the canvas on the floor and then poured and splattered paint randomly all over it. He walked all around the canvas while working on the pattern instinctively.
Due to the gestural nature of his style of painting, he was called an ‘action painter.’ He used his hands, brushes, sticks, knives, or even trowels to manipulate the dribbling colors. Pollack claimed that there was no accident in his painting and the spirally irregular weave of colors created by splashing paint had a controlled rhythm to it. There are multiple handprints on the upper edges of the painting, however it is not known if they are purposeful. Pollock used enamel house paint for “Number 1 (Lavender Mist),” as he found its consistency smoother and easier to work with, as compared to the thickness of oil paint.
The art world received Jackson’s “Number 1 (Lavender Mist)” with mixed feelings. A number of art lovers adored Pollock’s work, while some critics simply dismissed it as a bad joke. At a glance, “Number 1 (Lavender Mist)” may appear merely like a piece of granite, but when observed carefully, the powerful chaos of colors kindles subconscious feelings. The painting found many interpretations. Some people felt the painting seemed like a photograph of astronomical view of galaxies. There was a controversial opinion that Pollock had been thinking of a nuclear holocaust while painting “Number 1 (Lavender Mist)” and had depicted the aerial view of a blasted city.
Jackson Pollock perfected the technique of channelizing his spontaneous energy with his sub conscious mood to manipulate paint and create the remarkable and inimitable “Number 1 (Lavender Mist).” The painting is currently housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.