Home Art History Drip Painting Was Actually Invented by a Ukrainian Grandmother… Not Jackson Pollock ‹ Literary Hub

Drip Painting Was Actually Invented by a Ukrainian Grandmother… Not Jackson Pollock ‹ Literary Hub

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We should think that Jackson Pollock invented drip painting and thereby invented the American branch of Abstract Expressionism. He did that.So, say life and time In the dimly lit lecture hall, there were magazines, countless art history books, and professors, their eyebrows dyed by the light from the projector, speaking to the sound of the motor wind in the background. His first drip, or all-round, paintings were created using an innovative method of splattering and dripping paint on the spot, approaching the canvas from all angles. , a 1947 work by Pollock. Galaxy. Wasn’t that so?

It makes for a good story. Pollock was a macho, hard-drinking Wyoming-bred cowboy of postwar American art, a Hemingway with a paint bucket. The traditional method of painting inside the lines was unmanly for a rebel like him. And he certainly made a name for himself. He remains one of America’s two most famous painters, along with Andy Warhol. Americans, especially American men of his 1940s and his 1950s, blazed a trail and cast their shadow around the world. This is the story we have been taught.

And it’s all wrong. Rather, it is airbrushed and distorted to fit the idea that men, especially American men, are pioneers. This is true in almost any field, but in our case we are talking about art.

What Janet Sobel ignited and made famous is Jackson Pollock.

Insert audible sigh and eye roll here.

that’s what Set aside: The untold stories of women in art I’ll try to fix it. Because too often overlooked, ignored, ignored (just kidding) is the role of women in the story of art. As artists, of course, but there are other books that introduce women artists (but in different ways than the ones presented here). I am interested in highlighting the hidden role of women in all aspects of art and its history. Not only as an artist, but also as a patron, curator, influencer, critic, scholar, model, muse, etc. We hope that the result will show a 360-degree perspective of women in art. So how do you make it? hisart story sheAre you talking about art? Let’s start by gently knocking Jackson Pollock off his pedestal.

Because the all-over paint and drip technique was actually invented by a Ukrainian grandmother.

Janet Sobel (1893-1968) was born Jenny Lechowski in a Jewish colony in Ukraine. Her father was killed in a pogrom, and that trauma led her to immigrate to the United States in 1908 with her mother and her three siblings. A year after that, she got married and she went on to raise five children. She first picked up her paintbrush decades later, when her then 19-year-old son passed on his art supplies to her. He had won an Arts Student Union scholarship, but he had no intention of receiving it.

She tried to persuade him to do so, but he replied, “If you’re so interested in art, why don’t you paint?”

So she painted. She had no training at all, which was often a good thing. From the 16th century to her 18th century, being an “Academy painter” was considered an essential condition, as the best artists emerged from the early days of the academy system. However, since the 19th century, being called an “academic painter” has become rather derogatory, and despite having certificates to show that he has been trained, it is possible that he is simply continuing an old tradition. It suggests a high level of sexuality. The people who rock the boat and start revolutions are not the ones who were indoctrinated by the academy. The academy has tended to be phallocentric, focusing on the most famous revolutionaries, those who appear to fit best with public opinion. hiscircular orbit. Sobel experimented. She squirted paint directly from the tube, dripped it with an eyedropper, and even used the suction of a vacuum cleaner to pull wet paint across the canvas. Instead of placing the canvas on an easel, she placed it on the floor so that she could attack it from all angles. Art historian Kelly Grovier writes, “She attacked the surface of the canvas spread on the floor, orchestrating a liquid lyricism of spills, splashes, and spits unlike anything seen before.” .

Sobel’s first drip paintings were what she called milky way It was completed in 1945, two years before Pollock “invented” drip painting. One of Sobel’s sons, Sol, quickly realized that her mother was onto something and became a keeper admiring her talent. He, like Sobel, fled anti-Semitic pogroms in his youth and wrote to the major tastemakers of the time, including Marc Chagall, one of the world’s most famous painters. But he also wrote to Sidney Janis, a wealthy clothing manufacturer and art collector who had been an advisor to MoMA since 1934 and is today considered an influencer in the art world. Ta. Janis considered Sobel one of the great modern American artists (along with American immigrant artists such as Willem de Kooning and Marco Rothko). He described her as “perhaps ultimately one of the most important surrealist artists in this country,” noting her early formal style before turning to abstract art with her drip paintings. “It’s going to be known,” he said. Janis included Sobel in the exhibition “American Abstraction and Surrealist Painting,” which toured the United States, which made her a household name, and helped launch her first solo exhibition in New York. I cooperated. Another highly influential woman, Peggy Guggenheim, also included Sobel in a high-profile exhibition she promoted called “The Women.” However, these are all from her 1944, featuring Sobel’s work before the innovation of intravenous technology.

Guggenheim was so impressed with Sobel that he even held a solo exhibition of her at her gallery, Art of the Century.It actually included her run in 1946 milky way. Clement Greenberg, a leading art critic of the time, wrote about visiting the exhibit with Jackson Pollock in 1946. Greenberg recalled her exhibition by combining her negative misogyny towards Sobel with her admission that she influenced Pollock. He said that he and Pollock had noticed “one or two strange paintings in the Peggy Guggenheim Museum by the primitive painter Janet Sobel, then and now a housewife living in Brooklyn.” Pollock (and myself) admired these paintings.” Rather secretly… The effect, and it was the first truly “overall” effect I’ve ever seen, was oddly soothing. Pollock later admitted that these photographs left an impression on him. ”

A deeper look at this quote from Greenberg reveals the types of issues that have led to the marginalization of women in art narratives. In an article about Sobel, Sandra Zalman wrote, “While Greenberg chooses Sobel as Pollock’s predecessor, he insists that Pollock had already surpassed her.” Grovier notes that Greenberg used the word “secretly.” I don’t know if it was intentionally inserted or if it was a Freudian gaffe, but it seems like a confession. This is the moment that inspired Pollock to turn to “universal” painting using the drip technique, using a trick invented by Sobel, a “Brooklyn housewife” whom Greenberg referred to negatively. Yes, it’s artwork.

how do you make it hisart story sheAre you talking about art?

It wasn’t just the male-dominated media and critics like Greenberg who defended Pollock and ignored Sobel. Camille Paglia, one of the most famous feminist scholars, describes Pollock as a pioneer in her book. Sparkling images: An art journey from Egypt to Star Wars: “In the summer of 1947, a major breakthrough occurred: he invented his signature “drip” style, which would change modern art. ” This is exactly what I was taught as an art history student. Paglia would later be the first to highlight Sobel as the actual originator of this highly influential style, although she probably did not know her when she wrote her book. .

Pollock was a very important person and a great painter. My goal is not to tilt the axis of art history too far and overthrow icons. We must praise where praise is due. One tip of the hat is given to those who create or invent new styles, techniques, and genres – the true pioneers, the revolutionaries. But it is equally noteworthy to note who stole the spark of that revolution and let it go into flames. What Janet Sobel ignited and made famous is Jackson Pollock. Those are two different skill sets of his. True, they may even live in the same person. But in this case, the innovation goes to Sobel, and the marketing and chain of influence goes to Pollock.

Sobel disappeared from sight almost as quickly as it emerged from the darkness due to four catastrophic factors. First, in 1946, the same year that her major solo exhibition took place, she subordinated her own career to that of her husband. Her family moved to rural New Jersey, where her husband’s costume jewelry business was based. Sobel did not know how to drive her car, so she could not access New York City, the center of the art world.

Second, Sobel developed, or first became aware of, a rare allergy to an ingredient in the paint he was using. She switched to other art materials, such as crayons, but she could no longer draw or drip. Third, her biggest supporter, Peggy Guggenheim, left New York for Europe and settled in Venice, further from her Sobel reach. Finally, although Sidney Janis wrote praising her own work, she did not have any prominent authors to promote her own work. There was no Clement Greenberg as her herald. She has been a footnote for far too long, and her time in the spotlight, as well as her career, has been too brief. Only recently have scholars like Kelly Grovier and Sandra Zalman brought her back into the light. But they are the rare discoverers of this lost artist. There is not a single book printed about her.

I take issue with the fact that Sobel is almost completely forgotten, unknown and overshadowed by Pollock. And so do hundreds of important women who have influenced the history of art.that’s my hope Set aside: The untold stories of women in art Celebrating the Janet Sobels of the art world will go some way towards correcting this oversight born of patriarchal bias.


Excerpt from Set aside: The untold stories of women in art Written by Noah Charney. Copyright © 2023. Used with permission of the publisher Rowman & Littlefield. All rights reserved.

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