Art History Lab

The Deep”: Jackson Pollock’s Exploration of Emotional Depth in Art

Jackson Pollock: A Look at his Life and Masterpieces

Jackson Pollock is considered one of the most famous American artists of the 20th century. He was an Abstract Expressionist painter known for his drip paintings, which revolutionized the art world.

Despite his success, Pollock struggled with alcoholism his entire life, which ultimately led to his untimely death at the age of 44. In this article, we will explore Jackson Pollock’s life and famous artworks, as well as analyze his shift in artistic approach with “The Deep” and its exemplar “Number 14 (1951).”

Background about Jackson Pollock

Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, in 1912, and was the fifth and youngest son in a family of farmers. His family moved around the country during his childhood, but he always had a passion for art, specifically drawing.

Pollock studied art in New York City under Thomas Hart Benton, who was a Regionalist painter and taught Pollock the fundamentals of art. He became interested in the Surrealist movement and began to incorporate their techniques into his paintings.

Pollock gained national attention in the late 1940s and early 1950s when he started to create what became known as his “drip paintings.” These paintings were created by dripping, pouring, and splattering paint onto canvas, which allowed for a spontaneous and uncontrolled creation process.

Famous Artworks by Jackson Pollock

One of Pollock’s most famous paintings is “Mural,” which is seen as an iconic masterpiece of American art. It measures roughly 8 feet high by 20 feet long and was commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim for the entrance hall of her Manhattan townhouse.

Another one of his famous pieces is “Full Fathom Five,” which was created in 1947 and is made up of oil paint, gravel, and glass on canvas. Lastly, “The Tea Cup” is another well-known Pollock piece and is characterized by a mixture of drip and brushwork that creates a sense of depth and complexity.

Contextual Analysis

Pollock’s “The Deep” was a significant shift in his artistic approach, with a transition in his color palette and style. He started to create black and white paintings that incorporated figuration, which contrasted with his previous colorful abstract work.

“The Deep” is a prime example of this shift in Pollock’s approach. “Number 14 (1951)” is another example of Pollock’s transition and one of his most groundbreaking works.

It is a large-scale canvas that measures 6 1/4 feet by 8 5/8 feet that was made with a fluidity of lines through a pouring technique. This painting shows the tension between control and impulsivity that existed in Pollock’s work.

Using various techniques such as dropping, splattering, and dripping, Pollock creates depth, layers, and movement in this piece. This work represents a new development in Pollock’s approach, where he moved away from his previous emphasis on color and texture.


In conclusion, Jackson Pollock was a groundbreaking artist that revolutionized the art world through his drip paintings. His personal struggles with alcoholism added a tragic layer to his story, which makes his art resonate even more profoundly.

Through “The Deep” and “Number 14 (1951),” we learned that Pollock’s artistic approach went through a significant shift despite its short duration. He embraced new techniques to follow his inner voice and to create something new that was captivating and emotionally compelling.

His masterpieces continue to move and inspire people worldwide, and he remains one of the most significant and influential painters of the last century. Formal Analysis: An In-Depth Look at Jackson Pollock’s “The Deep”

Jackson Pollock’s “The Deep” is a masterpiece that was created in 1953 with oil paint on canvas.

The composition is vertically oriented, with a black strip running down the length of the canvas, breaking up dominant white spaces into two equal parts. The work is 80 1/4 x 60 inches in size and demonstrates the artist’s exploration of a new approach characterized by a limited color palette, thick and thin paint applications, and a play between black and white.

Art Elements: Color, Texture, Line, Space, Shape, and Form

“The Deep” has a limited color palette, which enhances the overall sense of depth. Pollock’s use of white paint creates a feeling of emptiness, while his use of black paint strengthens the sense of space.

The artist experimentally applied layers of paint, with different brushstrokes creating contrasting textures that provide a three-dimensional feel to the work. Some of the paint layers are thick and impasto-like, while others are thin, giving a sense of depth and creating a more vibrant surface.

These various textural flows provide an interesting interplay between light and shadows. The central black line creates a division between two vast spaces, unifying the composition with an axis which accentuates the depth.

The vertical and diagonal lines in the artwork create movement across the canvas, leading the viewer’s eyes around the work’s complex details. The black and white interplay, as well as the abstract shapes present, further contribute to the sense of depth, portraying different layers of emotional states.

By combining these different elements, Pollock creates a vertical space where the play of black and white creates an illusion of a horizon line.

Jackson Into the Deep

“The Deep” represents the deepening evolution of Pollocks style and technique, which encapsulates his exploration of depth through his art. The work characterises a transition stage in his paintings, as he moved beyond his earlier drip paintings.

Knowing how Pollock worked in his studio, it is possible to identify the various channels of improvisation in his “pouring, dripping, and brushing” of paint.

Pollock’s exploration of depth through art is exemplary in “The Deep” through the sensations provided even when the large canvas only depicts a black line and a white field.

The lyrical effects of the black paint in this painting creates an intimation of a primordial drawing. The thin black line on the white canvas conjures a sense of evolution, escalating from simple elements to complex forms.

Pollock’s shift in approach and use of new techniques in “The Deep” portrays his exploration of emotional states through abstract shapes, textures, lines, and forms. His paintings ceased to be made of objects but instead were vibrant environments of moods that profoundly affected the viewer.

The abstract nature of Pollocks works amplifies the visual experience of the work, allowing the viewer to reach their conclusions over what it could mean.

In conclusion, Jackson Pollock’s “The Deep” showcases the artist’s versatility and exploration with depth and abstraction in art.

Through a combination of color, texture, line, space, shape, and form, Pollock’s painting creates a unique experience for the viewer and showcases his instrumental role in avant-garde art. “The Deep” portrays an intensified search for emotional depth using a two-color palette and the possible representations it could embody.

Pollock’s artistic approach marked a significant cultural shift, and the work still resonates with audiences today as a masterpiece of Abstract Expressionism. Frequently Asked Questions: Jackson Pollock’s “The Deep”

Jackson Pollock’s “The Deep” is a work of art that has captivated audiences for decades with its striking simplicity and quiet intensity.

In this section, we will provide answers to some of the most common questions asked about this masterpiece. 1.

Who created “The Deep,” and where is it located? “The Deep” was created by the American artist Jackson Pollock in 1953.

The painting measures 80 1/4 x 60 inches, or 204 x 152.5 centimeters, and is made of enamel on canvas. It is currently in the collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France, where it has been on display since 1985.

2. What is the meaning behind “The Deep.”

It is difficult to determine the exact meaning behind “The Deep,” as with most of Pollock’s work; there is no clear message or narrative.

The artist wanted the viewer to connect emotionally with the work, to feel what he was feeling when he created it.

“The Deep” is widely viewed as a representation of deep emotional states, reflective of Pollock’s personal challenges.

Pollock struggled with alcoholism throughout his life, and it is possible that this work may have been influenced by the inner turmoil and the complex world he inhabited. The painting may be seen as a projection of the artist’s emotions through brushstrokes and layering that creates a physical space representing psychological depths.

3. How can we decode the abstract elements of “The Deep”?

The abstract elements of “The Deep” are challenging to decode due to the absence of figurative elements and the artists reluctance in offering a straightforward interpretation. However, the vertical black line that divides the abstract space into two contrasting sections could be viewed as a symbol of the individual mind’s separation between light and darkness, good and evil, or inner and external states.

The painting’s abstract elements and thickness of paint engender a multilayered and emotionally charged atmosphere. The thick traces and the presence of discolorations suggest an element of messiness, conveying raw emotional energy.

Overall, the artwork successfully achieves a visually and emotionally complex environment, symbolizing the psychological complexities of the human experience.


What was Pollock aiming to achieve in “The Deep”? Pollock aimed to achieve an environment that created an emotional, almost primal, connection with the viewer.

His intention was to go beyond material objects’ boundaries and reveal a glimpse into raw emotions, human existence, and the natural world. The painting intentionally aimed at displaying how the geometrical forms, lines, and patterns signify the human unconscious mind’s cyclical nature.

In summary, “The Deep” is a remarkable work of art that stands as one of Jackson Pollock’s masterpieces. The painting’s meaning and interpretation are ambiguous and have been a subject of debate among experts and the public.

Despite this ambiguity, the artwork’s visual and formal elements communicate messages evoking complex emotional states, inviting contemplation and reflection from the viewer. In summary, this article has explored the life and masterpieces of Jackson Pollock, including his famed works “Mural,” “Full Fathom Five,” and “The Tea Cup.” We have analyzed “The Deep,” Pollock’s transition to black and white compositions, and the art elements used to create this iconic work.

Additionally, we have discussed the emotional depth and ambiguity of Pollock’s art and why it has resonated with audiences. Jackson Pollock’s contribution to the world of art has been significant, and his work remains influential.

His ability to create an environment that evokes emotion is a testament to his skill and unique vision. We should continue to explore Pollock’s contribution to art and appreciate how one individual was able to shape a whole genre.

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