In “Full Fathom Five” 1947 by Jackson Pollack, we find a non-representational painting with many elements of form and content that help us to interpret the work. First of all, the painting is asymmetrical and a-focal. The only balance to be found is in the repeated use of colors from a cool color palette. These cool colors give the painting a sense of strength. The manner in which these cool colors are administered in the painting evoke a sense of controlled chaos. This “controlled chaos” is a testament to Pollack’s “action painting” technique.
There are no lines in “Full Fathom Five.” The most apparent formal element in “Full Fathom Five” is the texture. Just looking at it, one can sense the layers of one oil splash over another. There are no softening brush strokes to even the texture and by looking one can sense that to touch the painting would be to feel ridges. Pollock also added nails, cigarette butts, tacks and coins to this work. These added elements make it very clear that it is texture that Pollock wants the viewer to focus on. There is no focal point in the painting. We are taken in by the painting as a whole and what engages us are the cool colors and, again, the texture.
“Full Fathom Five” is a painting to be sensed. When we look at the painting we find no actual subject, no lines, and no focal point. The painting is asymmetrical. Nonetheless, “Full Fathom Five” is a powerful painting. The “invitation” to touch found in the texture of the painting is contrasted with the coolness in the color palette which suggests, “Leave me alone.”