Abstract Expressionism was a dynamic fusion of Surrealism and Abstraction, seeking to awaken in the viewer—and in the artist as well—a deeper, often physical, response to the work. Large scale, edge-to-edge compositions and rich colors fill the eyes with often unified fields that are connected by movement and the traces of the brush.

 Sea Change is from a breakthrough group of early “transitional” works that Jackson Pollock made in 1947, which led away from figuration toward a fully abstract application of his drip technique. Its title comes from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest and lends extra narrative content to the composition, suggesting an impending meteorological event.

Installation view, Modern and Contemporary art galleries, third floor, SAM downtown, 2011.

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  • Jody Tate

    The “sea change” in The Tempest isn’t about the weather (meteorological event) and I’d guess that Pollock knew this.

    What’s changed by the sea in The Tempest is nothing–the “sea change” is from song sung by Ariel to Ferdinand’s attempting to convince him his father has died. But Ariel knows the father hasn’t died. And the “sea change” would have happened (even though it hadn’t) “full fathom five,” that is, under the sea and not because of the weather.

    Naming the painting “Sea Change” does lend extra narrative content to the composition, but not about the weather but about belief in change. Ferdinand believes his father had died and suffered the sea change into “something rich and strange.” But his father lived. Pollock is poking fun at those who suggest that painting is undergoing a death, a sea change into something rich and strange. Painting is turning into something rich and strange, but it will never die.

  • I like to get close and look at the gravel. Jack The Dripper lived hard.