'ART BEATS: Jazz and Jackson Pollock.'

In 1960 the musician Ornette Coleman released an album called ‘Free Jazz’ which featured a Jackson Pollock painting on the cover but  influence between jazz music and the artist went both ways.

Pollock is remembered as a hard-drinking, rebellious, lone-cowboy figure, the original Abstract expressionist. His large scale paintings were completed rapidly by placing large canvases on the floor and painting with forceful brush strokes, or by using knives, trowels, and sticks to apply paint. He splashed paint directly onto the surface or dripped it directly from the tin. You can see his footprints in some of his pieces as he stepped into the painting.

Pollock was a big jazz fan, often attending performances at New York's Five Spot club. He listened in his studio, his wife, the artist Lee Krasner describing how he "would get into grooves of listening to his jazz records - not just for days - day and night, day and night for three days running, until you thought you would climb the roof!” He listened to musical greats like Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong and he told Krasner that jazz was "the only other creative thing happening in the country."

Pollock loved the freedom, tempo and energy of free-form jazz and bebop: he immersed himself in both the act of painting and the hot, spontaneous, swinging pace of the music. One contemporary critic rightly compared the "flare, spatter and fury" of his compositions to the direct, energetic quality of jazz music.

Pollock’s abstract paintings combine all-over composition with gestural handling of paint; weaving bold lines, splatters and puddles of colour which can be read as a complex whole, or as smaller motifs and passages. They achieve a visual symphony out of improvised mark-making: a harmonic structure from accident and chance. This use of spontaneous improvisation is essentially parallel to the jazz aesthetic in which the performer has the freedom to improvise solos and interpret the lines of the music, without losing the overall structure. Pollock shared many of the principles of jazz - his work expresses an intense energy and he uses colours, splatters and lines of the paint much like the melodies, rhythms and structures of music.

Pollock himself was adamant about how he wanted his work to be viewed "I think it should be enjoyed, he said "just as music is enjoyed"