Reckoning with Notation: The Drawings of Pollock, Newman and Louis

TAKE AN EMPTY PAGE AND orient it vertically. Draw two lines freehand, from the bottom of the page to the top. Make them arc slightly in opposite directions and cross near the center of the page, to form an elongated X. You can now regard the marked surface according to several different aspects.

First, think of it as an unfinished map, and the two lines become armatures of a hypothetical aerial view. Suggestions of scale are potentially significant, but as yet only approximate and vague. The page’s surface remains optically flat because it corresponds to generalized terrain, not to the vertical depth implicit in a true aerial view.

Next, rotate the page 90 degrees and regard the lines as horizons. Now they hint at a representation of landscape as seen from a specific vantage point, whence the peak of a foreground slope coincides with the nadir of a background valley. The impression of scale

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