Blue Poles, also known as Number 11, 1952, is an abstract expressionist painting by the American artist Jackson Pollock. Created in 1952, it features embedded shards of glass and footprints alongside enamel and aluminum paint applied with his infamous ‘drip’ technique. The painting conveys Pollock’s thoughts and emotions at the time of its creation.
Blue Poles includes eight dark vertical stripes that interrupt the swirling surface to create a sense of depth within the artwork. Despite being painted during a period of drinking binges, Blue Poles was not the result of a drunken fury; instead, it represents Pollock’s unique skill at employing his drip technique in producing an exceptional piece of work.
The painting was exhibited as Number 11, 1952 in Pollock’s solo show at Sidney Janis Gallery in New York City in November of that year. Initially preferring numerical titles over descriptive names for his creations, Pollock later provided the work with its striking name-The blue lines running through Blue Poles may have been used to unite disparate parts of this intricate canvas.
Pollock remains one of America’s most famous artists. He used techniques like those seen in Blue Poles to blur distinctions between figures and ground while constructing spatial ambiguities that reflect varied human experiences. With this artwork came fame -and controversy- reflecting how modern art could bend yet flourish under cultural pressures even while captivating some who saw themselves within such expressions.