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"One: Number 31, 1950" by Jackson Pollock, 1950 | MoMA Education

A MoMA educator discusses how she teaches “One: Number 31, 1950" by Jackson Pollock, 1950. Visit MoMA Learning for more teaching and learning resources. Created by The Museum of Modern Art.

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Video transcript

- Hi, my name is Grace Hwang, and I'm a School Programs Educator here at MoMA. This piece by Jackson Pollock is one of my favorite pieces to teach, just because of its sheer size and scale. And it just kind of takes up the whole wall and the whole room, and I love to think about it as a thought that kind of takes up the whole space of your mind. It's kind of subversive, the reason why I like teaching from this object. because it really confronts students' ideas about skill and creating art. Sometimes students will say, when they look at this painting for the first time, that the artist must have been angry or he's depressed, and what's interesting is to facilitate that idea of anger. Well, what movements do you make when you're angry? These kind of violent movements, these very strong movements and quick movements, and to compare that with a very opposite emotion of like excitement, and when you're really excited about something, you're just as moving very quickly. It's interesting to think of this painting as the collection of lines of energy, and you begin to follow as you look at One, maybe some moments that look sort of like electricity and kind of staticky, and then some movements that are moving very quickly, the very thin movements moving very quickly, and then some of these pools of paint, kind of these pauses and these lulls. A lot of times I have students think about, you know, well, give me your first word guttural reaction to this piece, and a lot of times they'll say things like, "Crazy, chaos, random!" And sometimes, you know, after a conversation about things that are controlled chaos or things that are seemingly random and out of control, it's really interesting that towards the end of the conversation, it might go more towards thoughts about the universe being controlled chaos, or the cosmos. A lot of times conversations can get really out there and very philosophical, and I think it's kind of a magic moment when that happens.