Given the dramatic destruction brought on this week in the Northeast by Hurricane Sandy, it’s only appropriate to highlight Tworkov’s Weatherman painted in 1953 as our November 2012 featured work by the artist.
Painted during the artist’s Abstract Expressionist period, Tworkov brushes greys and whites in a composition that at once seems responsive to landscape but then seems more in tune to personal atmospheric unrest–even a reflection of the artist’s inner psychosis.
It is uncertain whether a particular meteorological event inspired the artist to title this work Weatherman, there were several great storms in 1953 that could have prompted the title.
A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm caused a storm tide (similar conditions of Super Storm Sandy) resulted in the 1953 North Sea Flood on the night of Saturday, January 31, 1953. The flood struck the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland.
The 1953 Altantic hurricane season was the first time an organized list of female names was used to name Atlantic storms. It officially began on June 15 and lasted until November 15. Several storms from this season effected the Northeast.
Excerpts from the journals of Jack Tworkov at the time may shed light on the artist’s intent (excerpts reprinted in The Extreme of the Middle: Writings of Jack Tworkov):
September 25, 1953: There is no foreseeable future. Man acts on his environment but his deeds do not necessarily accomplish his heart’s desire.
September 27, 1953: To approach the canvas without any preconceptions is impossible. Many painters approach their canvas without any preliminary drawing, or any preliminary image. Yet they each end up with a characteristic work that cannot be mistaken for anyone else’s. Because they are, however freely they approach the work, already committed to certain forms, to certain colors, materials and to a certain manner of manipulation. [Franz] Klines always come out Klines and [Jackson] Pollocks always come out Pollocks…The artist who claims to work without any preconceptions wants to accomplish at least two aims:
1. He wants to empty his mind so that somehow some energy from his subconscious would take over and endow his work with an element of strength, newness, to surprise himself with, to empty his mind in order to be able to take advantage more quickly of any favorable development in the work.
2. To empty his mind so as to shake off the ideas of the work of others which are constantly present with him, in order to develop the most personal style possible.
In a word, all that the statement amounts to is that the artist has constantly to battle with his own preconceptions about painting, and with the ideas of painting by the more famous artists which, just because the artists are famous, engage him with so much more force that he is ever willing to admit.
However one approaches this painting by Jack Tworkov, the drama and impact of paint and composition is uniquely the artist’s own. To see the full listing for this painting in the catalogue raisonne click here.