Art is filled with instances of the ugly-pretty twin motif and dynamic. On the stage, there’s the recent example of Wicked featuring Elphaba Thropp (“ugly”) and Galinda Arduenna Upland (“pretty”). For a classical storytelling bend, there’s Cinderella and her stepsisters. The motif is also present in some art movements and forms, although when we speak about ugly-pretty, it is more applied to popularity, rather than the art on canvas, given the very subjective nature of art. In the Abstract Expressionist world the popular – and thereby pretty artists – have always been the likes of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, sometimes known as the Action Expressionists due to their approach to the canvas and the finished products. But what about the less popular artists and sub-movements? We’ll now have a look at Colour Field, sometimes seen as the ugly twin in the story of Abstract Expressionism.

Colour Field painting was a style of abstract painting that emerged in the 1940s and 1950s in New York City. It is distinguished from Pollock paintings and other “action” or drip style abstract expressionist works through its use of flat and solid colour painted across the canvas, usually creating areas of continuous surface and a flat picture plane. The group placed less emphasis on action, gesture and wild brushstrokes, instead favouring an overall consistency of form and process. One of the foremost Abstract Expressionist Colour Field painters was Mark Rothko, who created his signature multiform paintings using block colours based on human emotions. His most famous work was Magenta, Black, Green on Orange, 1949, a work that could be mistaken for a school blackboard assaulted by colour-chalk wielding preschoolers.

Another well known Colour Field artist was Robert Motherwell, who produced works that are recognisable due to their expansive and loose fields of painted surfaces, coupled with freely drawn shapes and lines in the style of Joan Miró and Henri Matisse. A classic work of his is Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 110 (1971) which is as about as opposite to a drip-style Pollock painting as one could get. Pollock himself was influenced by the Colour Field painters earlier in his career, but he would soon leave it behind in the hands of other painters such as Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Ad Reinhardt and Arshile Gorky.

In other Pollock painting news, we want to make our readers aware of a lawsuit filed by a one Pierre Lagrange, a co-founder of GLG Partners Inc., against the 165-year-old Knoedler & Co. art gallery. The lawsuit alleges fraudulent behaviour on behalf of the gallery’s former director Ann Freedman, who sold Mr Lagrange an alleged Jackson Pollock painting that was revealed to be a fraud after Lagrange had it extensively tested. Apparently, the smoking gun, or in this case, the smoking pigment, was found in some of the paint that was only manufactured a year after Pollock’s death. Ms Freedman had allegedly tried to sell the painting (known as Untitled 1950) for several years, but due to its lack of provenance was unsuccessful. We hope the truth comes out, but we’d suggest staying away from anyone with a shonky reputation – all our Pollock paintings are 100% reproductions – we’re not trying to take you for a ride.