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Pre-objective Depth in Merleau-Ponty and Jackson Pollock

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AbstractPollock’s drip technique generated certain unconventional representational possibilities, including the possibility of expressing the pre-reflective involvement of an embodied, intentional subject in a perceptual world. Consequently, Pollock’s art can be understood to explore or investigate the pre-objective conditions of reflective and intellectual consciousness. His painting—here I consider Number 1, 1949—motivates viewers to consider the relationship between intention and meaning as it appears in both primordial and reflective dimensions of experience. The account proceeds in three stages. First, I review key features of Merleau-Ponty’s concept of the pre-objective and attempt to clarify the reflexive nature of investigating it by considering his analysis of Paul Cézanne’s technique. Second, I consider Pollock’s technique and some critical responses to it, while analyzing some of its implications for a notion of pictorial address. Finally, I examine the perceptual effects of Number 1, 1949 and interpret them, following Merleau-Ponty’s lead, in view of a revised understanding of the relationship between automatism and intention.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Art and Art History, Trinity University San Antonio, TX 78212USA


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