The Key (1946) by Jackson Pollock

The Key - Jackson Pollock - 1946

Artwork Information

TitleThe Key
ArtistJackson Pollock
MediumOil On Canvas
Dimensions59 x 84 in.
Current LocationThe Art Institute Of Chicago

About The Key

Jackson Pollock’s “The Key” is a masterpiece from his Accabonac Creek series, named after a nearby stream near his home with his wife Lee Krasner. The painting, created in 1946, marked a new era of American artwork during European dominance in the art world. The title “The Key” symbolizes unlocking an emerging field of painting techniques.

Pollock utilized his signature drip paint style by starting with diluted black paint to form linear patterns and then layering various colors in thick and thin lines on top. He did not have any structured or preconceived ideas before starting to paint, but rather relied on his mood at the time.

“The Key” became famous during the Cold War, as it was promoted as a symbol of freedom fostered under liberal democracy. Today, it is regarded as one of Pollock’s most influential works that set a new standard for abstract expressionism.

It is noteworthy that although Jackson Pollock had no formal training in fine arts – which might come as a surprise to anyone who sees The Key – he was well-versed in art history and exposed to works by Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera while employed under New Deal programs for artists.

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