Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) – Pollock’s the Most Notable Work

Title: Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)

Author: Jackson Pollock (Cody, Wyoming, United States, January 28, 1912 – Springs, New York, United States, August 11, 1956)

Date: 1950

Genre: Abstract art

Movement: Abstract expressionism, action painting

Technique: Enamel on canvas

Support: Canvas

Dimension: 105 × 207 in. (266.7 × 525.8 cm)

Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

In New York, one game-changer painting will make you forget all the things you know about the art! It was undoubtedly born from its painter’s need.

He desired a new way, a new language, to express himself. So, first, he spread the canvas on the floor. Then, when he flicked, poured, splattered shot, dropped, splashed, and threw the paint at his canvas in every possible way, it seemed like his painting did not need brushstrokes to become real. In the meantime, he danced around the canvas by embracing the action painting, which is a critical part of his art. And eventually, he found his own expression along the way, inventing the first truly American art movement, Abstract Expressionism.

The painting below is none other than Jackson Pollock's Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), hanging on the Metropolitan Museum of Art walls!
Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950, Enamel on canvas.

The game-changer painting mirrors the painter’s movements and vibrancy as he whirled and ran around the canvas, spilling, dripping, splattering, and swirling paint. So, is the painting the map of his dance around the canvas, or is it an image result from the painter’s unconscious? Where do you stand on this? Let me know in the comments.

The brush flicking, the paint flying, and Pollock's actions merge into a single unit, an extended harmony.

Let’s divulge all the essential and compelling details of Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), waiting for us in NYC!


So, are you having a good day? Got anything planned for this afternoon? If not, come and join us; we are about to start our little trip to the Big Apple. We are keen to see what we have to see!

As we hurried on our way to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we found ourselves thinking about what makes great art great. Then, we entered the ornate room, filled with art pieces that could answer this question.

Front view of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We were just mesmerized by the paintings that came out of Jackson Pollock’s hands. Then, one calls us to come closer. We are invigorated by our walk to the painting. And there it is! Before our very eyes, the Autumn Rhythm(Number 30), a record of its process of coming into being, a session of buoyant, heavy, elegant, swirling, pooling strings of color!

The more you know the Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), the more imposing it gets. The imposing eye-catching painting is waiting for us to reveal its meaning to be known.

Let’s get to know its profound meaning first!


Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) indicates October, when it was created, and harmony with nature’s endless mutability.

It draws you into its intricate trap of swirls and splashes with a sense of repeatedly moving without beginning or end. Jackson Pollock created this feeling by relinquishing all conscious control of his artwork. Pollock’s primary contribution to modernism is this notion of abandoning personal power and premeditation to the artistic process or spontaneity.

Originally titled "Number 30", later "Autumn Rhythm". Therefore the Met gave the two names to accord, calling it "Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)".


Autumn Rhythm is full of intriguing things that you could not avert your eyes to it. The painting’s immense size and hyper-state captivate you. Nevertheless, intricate patterns, floating lines, and striking arcs let you fall into a bottomless pit.

The astonishing intricacy of the painting draws the viewer directly into it.

You attempt to make sense of what you can see by following the back and forward lines as they rise like a way to dare the gravity and fall like a drop from the sky. But before that, I want to give you Jackson Pollock’s brief biography before diving into all the technicalities to grasp them better.

Jackson The Dripper

Jackson Pollock couldn’t grasp the pencil to do what he wanted. In fact, when all art students around him effortlessly whipped out drawing after drawing, Pollock couldn’t even trace correctly.

He knew he had something to express in paint; however, he didn’t know how to depict it. In time, he would reveal how much talent he undoubtedly had, along the way inventing the first truly American art movement, Abstract Expressionism.

He appropriated an enormous space favorable for his large canvases for his studio. But the canvases demonstrated unwieldy, so Pollock chose to lay them on the floor. Then, oddly, the next step was entirely rational: He would drip paint onto them from above.

Jackson The Dripper.

Did Jackson Pollock Invent the Drip Painting?

A lot of tales appeared about how Pollock “invented” drip painting. They said that he accidentally thinned his paint too much, that he threw a brush in a fury, and much more. But the reality would be far away from it.

The truth is that he didn’t invent anything. Other Modernists had dripped paint, as well as flicked, dropped, splashed, and thrown. What was different was not only the way Pollock covered the entire canvas with dripped paint but also the mastery he performed in the particular technique.

Pollock had created his first "drip" painting in 1947, the product of a radical new approach to paint handling. The artist heightens his powers with Autumn Rhythm, made in October 1950.

He developed such control that he could drop paint precisely where he wanted. Even though he had struggled with his artistic knack more often than not, he couldn’t draw besides couldn’t even trace. He has such complete and utter control in Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), which seems pretty astonishing and also enormously rewarding.

His success was short-lived, doomed from the start by his self-destructive demons, but for a few incredible years, Pollock shoved his triumph in the faces of all those who had doubted him. But after all, he never did learn how to draw.

Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) Technique

The painting was not only about what he painted but how he painted. He abandoned the easel in favor of his studio floor. First, Jackson Pollock laid out his large canvases. Then, he flicked paint on them from the brush, dripped it from sticks, or threw it on straight from the paint can. He performed his work in a random yet highly controlled manner.

The act of painting became a critical part of his art. Photo by Hans Namuth.

His method was known as action painting. He unrolled a large canvas on the floor of his studio so that he could constantly move around it while applying the paint and working from all four sides to flick, pour or throw paint where he wanted. He even stepped on the canvas when necessary. Therefore, there’s no central point of focus, no hierarchy of elements in this all-over composition in which every bit of the surface is equally significant.

Jackson Pollock in his workshop in Springs, Long Island, NY, 1949. Photo by Arnold Newman.

Even though Pollock did not need the brush, he often used one yet, on an unprecedented scale. While he was performing Autumn Rhythm, the bristles almost never touched his painting. Instead, he let the paint drip off the tip, or another saying, he used the brush to flick and fling paint. Afterward, he would slash and swirl the paint puddles with a stick. Moreover, instead of mixing colors on a palette, he mixed paint on his canvas.

Jackson Pollock also used sticks, trowels, knives – in short, anything but the traditional painter’s implements to build up dense, lyrical compositions comprised of intricate skeins of line.

Jackson Pollock’ Studio

Taken photos when Pollock was at work in his studio show him moving around on his canvas, swinging his arms or flicking his wrist to throw the paint down to the canvas. This dynamic form of action painting and Pollock’s total involvement formed the powerful lines and curves that distinguish his work.
Jackson Pollock’s idiosyncratic working technic was often defined as ritualistic. His approach includes demanding physical activity also dense mental attention.

Pollock made his drip painting in a barn at his home in East Hampton, Long Island.

What Can You See in Autumn Rhythm(Number 30)?

In his Autumn Rhythm painting, Pollock seems to limit himself to four harmonious, earthly tones that evoke the autumn landscape’s fading color. Yet, at the same time, their vibrant application hints at solid breezes and swaying branches.

Pollock ignores focal points, edges, and other traditional composition ideas in his abstract works. As a result, you can expect Autumn Rhythm would be agitated chaotic. However, the truth is a bit different. It turns out its layers of color blend in a rhythmic way of intricate patterns, floating lines, and curves.


Jackson Pollock was influenced by Surrealist Automatism, allowing the subconscious to guide the artist’s hand. When he started to paint Autumn Rhythm, he was without an image, and Pollock let it develop as he worked. He even once said;

When I am in my painting, I am not aware of what I am doing.

Jackson Pollock
Pollock’s absolute freedom of movement turned into action painting. Photo by Martha Holmes.

In 1946, Pollock began to focus exclusively on the act of making a painting rather than worrying about its figurative or symbolic content. Spontaneity was a critical element. But lack of premeditation should not be confused with ceding control, as Pollock stated;

I can control the flow of paint; there is no accident.” 

Jackson Pollock

Surrealist Automatism

While Surrealism is a revolution against a society ruled by rational thought, the Surrealists tapped into the “superior reality” of the subconscious; in psychology, “automatism” refers to involuntary actions and processes, not under the control of the conscious mind such as dreaming, breathing, or a nervous tic.

Freud and other psychoanalysts used various techniques to bring to the surface the subconscious thoughts of their patients. Likewise, the Surrealists borrowed automatism techniques to boost their art, believing that the creativity that came from deep within a person’s subconscious could be more powerful and genuine than any outcome of conscious thought. Therefore we can define Automatism in art as one of the methods of Surrealism of creating art without conscious thought.

Joan Miró, The Birth of the World, 1925.
André Masson, Automatic Drawing, 1924.
Here, in Autumn Rhythm, we see a high point in modern art, where the artist was stepping away from the representation of nature by looking into himself, his physical movements, and his emotional state.

Limited Palette

Pollock preferred enamel paint since it was more fluid. He only employed four colors in Autumn Rhythm, as mentioned earlier.

Pollock began by flicking thinned black paint onto the canvas. The color plunged in since the canvas was unprimed, and the weave stayed visible, adding texture to the painting. A complex network of white, brown, and blue-grey rhythmic lines was built up over the black, making the black appear forward.

Sense of Movement

The whirling tangle of lines, splashes, and drops look explosive. Pollock’s vigorous, dance-like motions transformed into dynamic sweeps of seemingly haphazard marks-elegant lines of diluted black paint collide and intersect with broader white and brown stripes, streaks, splatters. The whole canvas is full of movement; some marks result from chance, while others are not random but carefully choreographed.

No Beginning or End

There is no focal point in the composition, and the center of the painting is no more important than the edges. Pollock said that his painting had “No beginning or end.” His paintings are represented as all-over compositions. In other words, Autumn Rhythm’s enormous size and has neither beginning nor end evoke the epic West American landscapes.

Long Rhythmical Trails of Paint

There are many ways that you can encounter in the painting. To namely, some areas are seen as seeping into the fabric; dots look like splashes and some areas where the paint has pulled up and dried and cracked—moreover, shiny areas or sharp or linear.

There is a sort of rawness. For centuries, whenever an artist painted, not only did they prime the canvas, but also the most often prepared the drawings by organizing the composition. So there was real intentionality and consciousness. And here he is flipping that value on its head.


Firstly, it’s one of Jackson Pollock’s best-known drip paintings. With Autumn Rhythm, Jackson Pollock revolutionized. It requires the witness’ interaction. The work is timeless since there was no indication, allowing viewers to relate willingly and not feel alienated. Nevertheless, it is an early and magnificent example of abstract expressionism.


Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) is an abstract expressionist painting. Along with artists Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock is credited with inventing Abstract Expressionism. As the first art movement that originated in America, Abstract Expressionism became the United States’ primary contribution to modernism. In addition, it helped New York pocket from Paris the title of the world’s cultural capital. It’s hard to imagine where Pollock would have gone with his art had he lived.

Abstract Expressionism

After World War II, it was as if American artists dropped a bomb on German Expressionism, splattering the representative side and leaving only the naked expression. In German Expressionism, emotion distorted the face of reality ( the way human faces are distorted by extreme feelings but are still recognizable). In Abstract Expressionism, emotion distorts the face of existence beyond all recognition.

Jackson Pollock, The Deep, 1953.
Arshile Gorky, The Liver is the Cock’s Comb, 1944.
The purpose of Abstract Expressionism (1946-1950) is to probe the unconscious, to allow it to speak its own symbolic language.


When you confront Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm, as well as it engages you, you feel like you’re being swallowed by it, and it lets you fall into a bottomless pit. Or should we call it the chaotic yet beautiful universe?

All was said by me, yet, the one more thing left to be told by Jackson Pollock…

“When I say artist I mean the man who is building things—creating, molding the earth, whether it be the plains of the west or the iron ore of penn. It’s all a big game of construction —some with a brush—some with a shovel— some choose a pen.”

Jackson Pollock

I have a few questions for you below.

What title would you give this painting?
How does this painting make you feel? 

You can share your answers with us in the comments:)

Last but not least, if you are into art, we will have a blast seeing you here. I hope every art-related thing will find you; see you in our following review. ????✌

See Also:

Here is an essay that explains abstract expressionism: Abstract Expressionism

And here is a video by the Met, explaining Jackson Pollock’s paintings:

The Met Museum Map