Ocean Greyness, 1953 by Jackson Pollock
In 1951, at the height of the artist's career, Vogue magazine published fashion photographs by Cecil Beaton of models posing in front of Pollock's drip paintings. Although this commercial recognition signaled public acceptance and was symptomatic of mass culture's inevitable expropriation of the avant-garde Pollock continuously questioned the direction and reception of his art. His ambivalence about abstract painting, marked by a fear of being considered merely a decorative artist, was exacerbated, and it was around this time that he reintroduced to his paintings the quasi-figurative elements that he had abandoned when concentrating on the poured canvases. Ocean Greyness, one of Pollock's last great works, depicts several disembodied eyes hidden within the swirling colored fragments that materialize from the dense, scumbled gray ground. "When you are painting out of your unconscious", he claimed, "figures are bound to emerge". Manifest in this painting is a dynamic tension between representation and abstraction that, finally, constitutes the core of Pollock's multileveled oeuvre.