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Pollock’s Birth is shot through with primeval energy. The process of birth is seen as a desperate struggle. The mask-like faces, drawn from Inuit and Native American art, lend the image an unrestrained energy. Like many modernist artists, Pollock was fascinated by ‘primitive’ art for its expression of fundamental human fears and desires, particularly as traditional ideas of ‘civilization’ were tainted by Europe’s slide into fascism and war.

March 2007