In his seminal essay, The American Action Painters, art critic Harold Rosenberg described the abstract expressionist as a “vanguard painter [who] took to the white expanse of the canvas as Melville’s Ishmael took to the sea.” In the public consciousness, abstract expressionism came to represent pure possibility. And no one benefited more from this myth-making than Jackson Pollock. Who cares if Rosenberg didn't have Pollock in mind when he wrote American Action Painters, or that Rosenberg disliked the mass media culture surrounding Pollock. Rosenberg gave the abstract expressionist a soul. He defined a will to power. Jackson Pollock's painting was now a heroic act.
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