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Critics frequently describe Pollock’s allover painted fields, especially those he began producing after 1947, as absorbing or engulfing the viewer, occasioning a sensation of being immersed within an all-encompassing visual environment. His paintings are said to establish so powerful a continuity between viewer and painting that the distinction between them collapses, generating a feeling of what the psychologist Anton Ehrenzweig notoriously described as “undifferentiated oceanic envelopment.”1 Pollock’s works, he continued, “enveloped the spectator inside the picture plane,” producing a “manic experience of mystic oneness.”2 In them, “pictorial space advances and engulfs [the viewer] in a multi-dimensional unity where inside and outside merge.”3 On this account, Pollock’s art is immediate, commanding an irresistible connection or mysterious identification.

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Getty Research Journal