Masters Thesis

Jackson Pollock and the Native-American shaman

Abstract Expressionism has generally been studied as the formal confluence of abstraction, surrealism and expressionism transposed onto America’s shores during the psychotraumatic existentialist World War II period and atomic aftermath. An underlying theme of many modernist studies is primitivism. This study varies in that it specifically looks at the art of Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) as a member of the New York School in the 1940s and early 50s when under the influence of Native-American art and culture, as well as the writings of John Graham, and Jungian psycho-therapy, as he struggled with alcoholism and personal demons. During the period Pollock integrated Native-American shamanism and Navajo sandpainting healing ceremonies and techniques while his art evolved from figurative abstraction into all-over nonobjective drip painting as a means to express his unconscious and to heal himself