I. CONVERTIBLE SIGNS
Jackson Pollock’s The She-Wolf, 1943, was the first painting one saw on entering “Abstract Expressionist New York” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York this past winter. As a compendium of signs, this canvas was an apt introductionpractically a manifestofor a movement dedicated to producing signs that function as distinctive artistic “trademarks” and yet are open to multiple and sometimes infinite optical trajectories. In The She-Wolf, the layers of signification that Pollock would synthesize in his mature style remain distinct. A diagrammatic red arrow that roughly bisects the canvas horizontally, for instance, is encircled by a second sort of signthe hieroglyphic outline of a wolf, in whose haunches some see a bull’s head transforming the central figure into a two-headed monster. At least two numeralsboth sixesas well as a variety of
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