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How Jackson Pollock became so overrated

There’s an overlooked reason for Pollock’s fame. Even if you love him, you might not know the name of the man who made him famous.

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Jackson Pollock is one of the 20th century’s most famous artists. But do you know the critic who made his reputation?

Clement Greenberg is a well-known name in the art world, but not necessarily to art fans. However, he earned a reputation as one of the most influential art critics in the 20th century, whose legacy included the canonization of Jackson Pollock.

Abstract expressionist art needed vocal champions to support challenging, unique work, and Greenberg was the most powerful and vocal in his defense of the art and, in particular, Jackson Pollock. Greenberg went from tie salesman to intellectual in less than a decade, thanks to strongly worded arguments for a new artform. Jackson Pollock was one of his favorite artists, and the two spent time together socially as they simultaneously climbed in the art world.

Is Clement Greenberg the reason that Jackson Pollock is so famous? He’s definitely a part of it — and understanding the role of Greenberg and critics like him can be a useful tool to understanding art in the 20th century.

Overrated is a series that takes a look at the things we all know — the books, the trends, and the ideas that have become iconic — and answers the question: “Why is this so famous”?

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5 Thoughts to “How Jackson Pollock became so overrated”

  1. E

    Expressionism is sometimes great, but names and connections are all that matters in the art world these days. Some of the world’s best modern artists will never be known, because the “high art” world is exclusive to those in the right location and connections.

  2. Avery Lopez-Baines

    So you’re telling me my messy paintings that I made when I was 4 could be worth a fortune? *MIND BLOWN*

  3. Robby Huang

    So once again it seems that marketing is a big reason for somethings success.

  4. Jomer Tomale

    The argument of many abstract expressionism “fans” is that “Why don’t you make it yourself if it’s that easy?” when this video clearly shows that you need “connections” more than talent, creativity, and passion. Many great artists are already in the graveyard, literally.

    PS: I get what abstract expressionism is and Pollock’s works appeal to me. But that’s it.

  5. John Orozco

    We need to see an Overrated series on Fashion. Maybe Balenciaga, Dior, or Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.

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