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Jackson Pollock

Born, 1912 in Wyoming, USA. Died, 1956

Jackson Pollock’s Number 1: Lavender Mist, 1950, oil, enamel and aluminium on canvas, 87 x 118 inches, was reproduced in the catalogue for The Search for Freedom: African American Abstract Painting 1945-1975, an exhibition that took place at Kenkeleba Gallery, New York, May 19 - July 14, 1991. It was a major exhibition featuring some 35 artists - Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, Betty Blayton-Taylor, Frank Bowling, Peter Bradley, Vivian E. Browne, Ed Clark, Adger Cowans, Beauford Delaney, Sam Gilliam, Ray Grist, Bill Hutson, Zell Ingram, Harlan Jackson, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Ronald Joseph, Larry Compton Kolawole, Norman Lewis, Al Loving, Richard Mayhew, Algernon Miller, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Joe Overstreet, Howardena Pindell, Rose Piper, Haywood Bill Rivers, Thomas Sills, Thelma Johnson Streat, Alma Thomas, Mildred Thompson, William White, Jack E. Whitten, William T. Williams, Frank Wimberley, and Hale Woodruff. The exhibition sought to demonstrate the extent to which ‘African American’ artists were at the forefront of experiments and commitment to abstraction in the visual arts, in the mid 20th century. Whilst the exhibition was subtitled African American Abstract Painting 1945-1975, two of the artists were in fact Caribbean born; Ronald Joseph, from St. Kitts and the British artist Frank Bowling, born in Guyana. This exhibition marked a hugely significant intervention into art historical narratives, which have tended to locate African American artists very firmly within the camp of figurative practice, with all of its attendant social narratives.

Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950 was reproduced as part of the text, C.L.R. James as a Critical Theorist of Modernist Art, by David Craven. The test was part of Cosmopolitan Modernisms, inIVA and MIT Press, 2005. The volume was part of Kobena Mercer’s Annotating Art’s Histories series.

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