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Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock: The Revolutionary Modern Artists Research Paper

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Art has played a pivotal role in helping to enhance people’s lives from generation to generation. Artists have been instrumental not only in expressing the culture of people but also in transforming it. As a result, art is now regarded a part of our daily lives.

Artwork is evident in various aspects of our lives for example, in the houses we live in, programs we watch on our televisions, and artifacts on our religious buildings. Individuals rely on works of art to represent their ideas, thereby helping to influence people at a particular moment in time. Through the ages, artists have used art to both express and influence culture in a bid to reveal deep ideas affecting a society.

From ancient times to the present, art movements have had a great influence on social-cultural changes. Every art movement has a reason and individuals behind it. This essay focuses on modern art movements. Cubism and Abstract expressionism art movements are reviewed by focusing on how they developed and the impact they have had on art as a discipline.

The works of Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock has had a profound influence on modern art. The essay addresses the contribution of these famous artists to their particular art movements and in general, the world of art.

Modern Art

Modern art represents works of art created during the period ranging from the1880s to 1970s. These works of art were highly influenced by modern thoughts and ideas. Modern art therefore also refers to art philosophy and styles of works of art created between 1880s and 1970s (Hunter, Jacobus & Wheeler 17). Before the modern art, conventional philosophies and styles were very influential.

Modern art therefore represents a major breakaway from conventional styles arts to modern experimental styles. Among other differences found in the traditional styles of art, modern art has high tendency towards abstraction.

Within modern art, there are various art movements. Each art movement or group had in itself peculiar features, which sets it apart from other art movements. Among the modern art movements are impressionism, fauvism, expressionism, Art Nouveau movement, Cubism, Art Deco movement, Pop Art movement, Conceptual art and Digital art movement (Hunter, Jacobus & Wheeler 69).

Cubism and Abstract expressionism are some of the influential movements in modern art. The movements led to great changes in the world of art. Even today, magnificent works of arts from these movements are still popular.

Pablo Picasso, probable the most popular artist, was the founder and the main force behind Cubism. On the other hand, Jackson Pollock is considered a founder member of abstract expressionism. The artist is named as one of the most popular American artists and is credited with having exposed American works of art to the international audience.

Modern art was a great break away from conventional art. The two artists lead in use of unconventional methods in developing their works.

Their use of unconventional methods attracted attention to their works of art, making other artists to emulate them. Growth in cubism and abstract expressionist may be attributed to Picasso and Pollock although other artists had significant contribution. Pablo Picasso, along with Georges Braque are considered the fathers of modern art while is regarded Pollock regarded as the father of American art.


Cubism was an art movement which was formed in early 20th century. The movement started in 1907 in France and spread quickly to other regions in Europe. Cubism led to great change in modern art (Hunter, Jacobus & Wheeler 106). Led by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, Cubist artists broke away from conventional tendency to look at work of art from a single point of view.

Cubists made use of analytical systems which allowed them to represent three-dimensional subject in several points of views. The new method of art was considered a new way of viewing and representing the world.

Unlike earlier movements in art, Cubism incorporated outside contribution in art such as African art. The art movement also incorporated the modern theories of nature. One of the emerging theories that greatly influenced the movement was Einstein’s Theory of Relativism. Other current thoughts affecting social-economic aspects of the people were also reflected in the works of art.

Cubism greatly changed how art was perceived. Conventional painters were confused by the emerging style of art. Unlike conventional works of art, Cubism did not focus on translating objects naturally but emotionally. Cubism led to works of art that were more oriented towards aesthetic rather than expressing reality (Gantefuhrer-Trier & Grosenick 53).

The new style of art led to great change in producing works of art that were outrageously different from the conventional works of art. It represented a new and different way of perceiving and representing the world. Cubists’ way of representing objects was very different. It tendency to totally distort landscapes and portraits attracted attention to itself leading to development of the new style of art.

The uniqueness of cubism was largely due to its tendency to view a subject from multiple perspectives, leading to a distorted work of art. In Cubism, objects were first broken down and the then re-assembled in abstract form upon analysis. Cubists used multiple viewpoints in order to represent the subject in a broader contest.

The surfaces of dissected objects intersected at random angles. Another distinct feature in cubist work of art was the tendency of the background and object planes to interpenetrate one another. This led to a thin ambiguous space that distinguished Cubism work of art from other works of art.

Cubism was developed in two major phases resulting in the two major branches of Cubism. These include analytic and synthetic cubism. Analytic cubism was developed between 1007 and 1911. Most of it was from Picasso and Braque’s works. The second phase of development of cubism lasted from 1911 to 1919 leading to Synthetic cubism. Analytic cubism was the first form and the foundation of cubism.

Natural forms drawn in elementary geometric parts characterized analytic cubism. Analytic Cubism analyzed natural forms breaking them down to basic parts. They did not use color in their paintings except for monochromatic scheme mostly involving blue, grew and ochre.

The analysts focused more on basic geometric forms derived from the natural forms, rather than color (Gantefuhrer-Trier & Grosenick 91). In this first phase of cubism, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque’s works of art were almost related. Later, the cubist artists led by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque adopted abstraction where they would create works of art that were highly detached from reality.

The second phase of cubism movement- synthetic cubism- was a development from the analytic cubism. Unlike Analytic Cubism that was more intellectual than decorative, Synthetic Cubism tended to add decorations. Synthetic cubism movement took place between 1912 and 1919 led Pablo, Juan Gris, Braque among other artists.

Synthetic cubism was characterized by distinct features such collage elements, and diverse texture. ‘Still Life with Chair-caning’, by Pablo Picasso is considered the pioneer work of art in this movement. While analytic cubism entailed breaking down of subject in to different forms, synthetic cubism entailed more of bringing several objects together. As aforementioned, cubism was a sharp breakaway from conventional styles.

Abstract Expressionism

Also referred to as New York School of art, Abstract Expressionism was an art movement that took place in United States leading to a great change in art. The term ‘Abstract Expressionism’ is used to represent the style’s tendency to used abstract forms and express emotion (Hess 32).

The movement started in mid 1940 and dominated the world in the mid 20th century. Although the term had been used in 1919 in Germany, the movement is highly associated with America and especially to the New York group of artists. The new style of art brought great change on the styles of painting. It was the first style originating from United States to bring high influence on international art.

Unlike conventional works of arts, Abstract Expressionism was oriented towards expression of emotion rather that objects. Most of the paintings in this style were made in large canvasses using dramatic colors. Unlike in other conventional styles, there was use of loose brushwork in Abstract Expressionism.

With its origin in New York, United States, the movement tried to differentiate itself from other styles of art in Europe. Before this movement, art movements in Europe had high influence in the style of art in United States. The movement therefore represented the first instance that a style originating from United States had influence on international styles of art (Hess 67).

The movement did not only represent a change in style of art but it was also a reflection of psychological state in the society. Psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freund provided some of the intellectual foundation of the style. Many artists who had migrated to United State because of Second World War also influenced the style. Some of influential artists to this style included Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, William de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Richard Pousette-Dart, Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still (Hess 53).

Abstract Expressionism artists’ departure from conventional styles of painting led to revolutionary attitude that was associated with the movement. The movement was dominant for a considerable duration during the mid 20th century until the development of Pop art. Among other major consequences of this movement was development of New York as center of art world replacing Paris.

Abstract Expression was an art movement viewing painting as a means for expressing emotions and visual communication. Although not all works of art in this style demonstrated abstraction and expressionism, all the works were characterized by unplanned release of unconscious creativity. The paintings had some common features that distinguished them from other styles. Abstraction meant that the paintings expressed meaning that was different from conventional meaning in visual world (Hess 58).

Most of paintings in Abstract Expressionism movement were created on large canvasses. Unlike those in Cubism, the artists gave more attention to color, texture and general surface quality. Most of the artists emphasized on chance and accident. Although part of the paintings were planned, the artists highly used spontaneous development of ideas.

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica versus Jackson Pollock’s Lavender Mist

Both Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock were very instrumental in the development of their particular style of art. Pablo Picasso played a very significant role in development of Cubism while Jackson Pollock had the highest influence in development of Abstract Expressionism.

Pablo Picasso lived from from1881 to 1973. In his long life, Picasso contributed highly to the world of art. Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain where he showed interest in art from early age. His family was full of talented artists. For instance, his father was a popular artist as well as professor and a curator.

In pursuit of his interest, Picasso studied art in Madrid and later moved to Paris. It is in Paris that he started to paint. Influenced by French culture, Picasso initial works of art were highly in Parisian style (Moffat par 7). Pablo Picasso experience with life had high influence on his style art. Having experienced the First and the Second World War and the Spanish Civil War, Picasso had a lot to communicate through his works of art.

Guernica is considered to be one of Picasso’s most memorable art works as illustrated below.

Picasso, Pablo. Guernica

Source: Picasso, Pablo. Guernica. Jun. 1937 17 Aug. 2010 ()

Jackson Pollock is America’s most successful artist. His high contribution to world of art through his unique style left a mark in art not only United States but also internationally (Wyo par. 5).

Born in 1912, Jackson lived for only forty years but left a great mark in the work of arts. Pollock has interest in art right from his early age. His interest in art was given an opportunity to develop by attending Manual Art High School in Los Angeles and later enrolling at Art Student league with Thomas Hartion New York. Benton’s guidance at the league enabled Pollock develop his skills.

In the league, Pollock got exposure that had high influence on his painting. One of the major exposures was to work with mural painting which later influenced his new style. In addition, Pollock was influenced by European painters among them Picasso to develop his skills in art. Lavender Mist is one panting that demonstrates his unique skills and style as illustrated below.

Pollock, Jackson. Lavender Mist

Source: Pollock, Jackson. Lavender Mist: Number 1. Mar. 1950. 17 Aug. 2010 ()

Guernica was created in 1937 and remains to be one of Picasso’s most acclaimed works. The painting is composed of Oil on Canvas measuring 349.3 by 776.6 centimeters. It is created using Pablo Picasso’s unique cubism style. As the painting’s name, Guernica was aimed at representing aerial bombardment of the little village of Guernica (Moffat par 7).

Pablo Picasso considered himself as a pacifist. He was therefore not impressed by the war that was taking place during that time. He was particularly angered by the bombing at Guernica, which considered as attempt to intimidate Spain into the war. The painting does not just represent real object but had deeper meaning wrapped in the painting. Thus, the painting was not just a recreation of the events that had happened at Guernica but aimed at sending the message of futility of war.

Lavender Mist (Number 1) was one of Jackson Pollock’s most successful paintings. The painting was created in 1950 and it is until today preserved in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The painting is oil on canvas, enamel, oil and aluminum paint on canvas (Wyo par. 8).

Similar to his previous art work, the painting is in a large canvas measuring 221 by 300 centimeters. The painting was made using unconventional material. For instance, materials used to paint Lavender mist include enamel house paints rather than conventional thicker oil based paints (Wyo par. 8). Not only does Pollock uses unconventional paints but also include other materials such as glass sand in the painting. The paints on the painting seem to have been poured without being touched therefore forming random patterns.

Unlike in conventional painting, Pollock used variety of utensils such as sticks, knives and brushes to develop the painting. Lavender mist appears as web of colors that is spread violently over the canvas. Although Pollock did not assign a theme to the painting, looking at the painting invokes varied emotions including controlled violence.

Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock had messages, which they intended to communicate to their audiences. Guernica’s message is explicit. From the painting, the viewer is able to have an impression that painting has a message on warfare. Painted in black and white, the painting is able to communicate a message of horror of war.

Visual elements are used effectively on the painting. For instance, use of curvature along with lines generates a chaotic feeling. Most of the figures on the painting overlap but shading around the figures help to create the feeling of space. Color is used to communicate the intended message.

For instance, Picasso used light color to represent positive figures while dark shading to represent negative figures. The message or theme in Lavender Mist is not explicit. The painting represents internal feelings flowing freely from the painter. Unlike Picasso’s Guernica, Lavender Mist is completely abstract. One cannot be able to associate the forms on the painting with any real object. Instead, the painting seems to represent internal feelings of the painter.

Main colors used in the painting include green, black, while and some cases brown. The painter succeeds in use of color to express the painter’s feelings. Painter’s use of lines creates a feeling of movement. Dance like movement on the painting encourages flow of unconscious imagery. The result is that each audience may have their own different interpretation of the painting.


Paintings have been used as means of communication for along time. Painters use their skill to communicate to the audience. Various art movements have been witnessed over time. Modern movements are some of the most vibrant art movements. The movements brought great change in relation to art.

Cubism and Abstract Expressionism are the two most influential art movements in modern art. Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock were among the most influential artists in their respective art movements. Pablo Picasso’s new way of painting brought great change from Fauvism to Cubism while Jackson Pollock took United States to the limelight of art by introducing revolutionary new form of painting: Abstract Expressionism.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso and Lavender Mist by Jackson Pollock are well known today almost as they were known after being created. Pablo Picasso use cubism to represent warfare in his Guernica. Lavender in completely abstract, it invokes varied emotions from every audience that views it.

Works Cited

Gantefuhrer-Trier, Ann and Grosenick, Uta. Cubism. New York: Taschen, 2004. Print.

Hess, Barbara. Abstract Expressionism. New York: Taschen America LLC, 2009. Print

Hunter, Sam, Jacobus, John and Wheeler, Daniel. Modern art: Painting, sculpture, architecture, photography. New York: Prentice Hall, 2004.

Moffat, Charles. The most Famous Artist of the 20th Century. 2005. Web.

Wyo, Cody. Jackson Pollock: Pioneer in Abstract Panting. 2003. Web.

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