Audio transcript

Jackson Pollock 'Summertime: Number 9A'

Narrator: 'Summertime: Number 9A' was painted by Jackson Pollock in 1948. Here's Jeremy Lewison , former Director of Collections, at Tate.

'Summertime' was painted by Jackson Pollock after he left New York and settled in Long Island in a place called Springs. 'Summertime', in its expansiveness, reflects the vastness in scale of America, which Pollock knew at first hand from driving across from West coast to East coast and back again on several occasions as a young man. It seems to evoke some of the summer smells and sounds and the heat and the general rhythms and cycles of nature in the summer. However, this is not a traditional landscape. This is a painting in which, along with a number of other paintings of 1947 and 1948, Pollock tore up the rule book of painting. He moved away from the easel painting and he painted with the canvas stretched out on the floor. Instead of using the small gestures of the wrist or the fore-arm, he used his whole body in broad gestures, walking up and down the canvas or alongside the canvas, not simply flicking paint but pouring it and dripping it in very controlled movements, movements which were not simply from the arm but invoked the whole torso. The first e of paint that appears to have been applied is the grey which appears to be like a frieze of dancing figures running across the painting and one of the last es to be applied is black, which again reinforces this sense of the figural. It is as though the memory of the figure is imprinted on the unconscious movements that Pollock makes with his whole body.