Following the rebellious path of modernism, throughout the twentieth century artists began to break away from past artistic conventions and develop their own views on art and its creation. Rather than focusing exclusively on the final product, artists questioned the traditions of art (solitary painting/sculpting in a studio) and the great emphasis put on the piece itself, which was considered “the art”. What is art really? In conventional terms the artist is incredibly disconnected from their own work and the entire artistic experience is disregarded. This gives art a strictly material definition, and puts constraints on not just the artist but also the viewer. Artists began to notice the unbreakable connection between the process of creation and its resulting product, and started to experiment in the ways they could approach creation in their own unique processes. Originally a marginal movement, the style was given its own name in the 1960s of “Process Art”, although the term encompasses a variety of movements. Chance and the energy of the artist/viewer were two major aspects of this innovation, requiring the audience to step back and attempt to truly understand what was in front of them, and not simply admire a piece for its aesthetic qualities. This freeing facet of process art ultimately opens up art to greater discussion, allowing greater freedoms for the audience and artist that had never before been given. Process art puts the entire idea of art into question, opening up a world of possibilities to all.

One of the first groups in the twentieth century to experiment with processes of creating art, and stressing the process itself was Dada. The movement’s name alone exemplifies the style, as the name, “Dada”, is completely nonsensical. The movement was a definite break in traditional art forms, and could be seen as an even greater diversion from the
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Hans Arp "Untitled"
tide of modernism. Rebelling from the past foundations of many art forms, Dada artists wished to rid themselves entirely of any kind of academic or artistic training, and instead rely entirely on instinct and chance. They hated the idea of “planning” or “composing” works, and rejected the idea of any sort of artistic “talent” in their art forms. Chance became a central part of their pieces, as Dada artists sought for chance alone to determine the result of their efforts.

In the piece “Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged according to the Laws of Chance)" by Hans (Jean) Arp, chance alone was the sole determinant in its creation.Frustrated with a drawing he had made, Arp ripped it up and threw the pieces on the ground. Coming back to it later, Arp had a revelation. He saw art in the scattered pieces on the floor, and keeping the exact arrangement, created his own piece. In his mind the piece showed a sense of expression that he failed to achieve with his other drawings or works, largely contributed by chance. Arp continued to make pieces like this, developing ways to bring chance even further into the process. At one point he started using paper cutters in his works, so as to be sure that the piece would not be influenced by the talent in his own hands.
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Marcel Duchamp "Bicycle Wheel"

The master of ready-mades, Marcel Duchamp also utilized chance within the Dada movement. “Ready-mades” or “found objects” are generally known as objects or pieces that aren’t ordinarily considered art (normally because they have a “non-artistic function”), but have been given artistic meaning. For Dada artists, ready-mades were unique in their idea that by moving an object from one place to another one can change its meaning, part of an idea of Free Association. In this strange juxtaposition, the viewer is put in charge of creating their own meaning from the piece, again bringing chance further into the artistic process. In Duchamp’s readymades such as “Bicycle Wheel” and “The Fountain” the placement and orientation of the pieces is what make them so intriguing. Acting on a whim, Duchamp created “Bicycle Wheel” by taking a piece of his own bike in his studio and mounting it on a stool. The contrast of the two pieces leaves it up to the viewer to create their own interpretation, which he encouraged. Even more avant-garde in his piece “The Fountain”, Duchamp simply took a urinal, comically signed it “R. Mutt”,and placed his
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Marcel Duchamp "The Fountain"
work in an exhibition. In this piece he crossed boundaries, questioning art itself and exhibiting a lack of a need for any sort of artistic “talent” to create a piece. In this way Duchamp attempted to remove the artist entirely from the process and leave the rest up to chance, developing the revolutionary idea that simply identifying a piece as art makes it art.

The idea “the means count for more than the ends” encompasses the central themes of Jackson Pollock’s art and process. Part of the Abstract Expressionist and Process art movements, Pollock challenged previous ways of creating art and working. Instead of working solely with an easel or brush, Pollock developed his own techniques, preferring other objects/methods such as using sticks, trowels, knives, or adding broken glass/sand to his paints. Pollock's greatest innovation was his development of "action painting", a technique of pouring or dripping paint on canvas. Through this process the paint literally flows onto the canvas, and becomes an instant mean of creating art. An additional break from tradition was Pollock's challenging of conventional dimensions while painting. Pollock painted from all directions, not necessarily upright, even laying the canvas on the floor and painting from above. About this process, Pollock stated, “I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.”. Influenced by surrealist automatism, Pollock used the force of his whole body to paint, and was almost dancelike as he worked. This "dance" he saw as part of the process of the creation of a piece. Although he said that none of his pieces were accidental, he recognized the duel nature of the controllable and uncontrollable in art, and embraced this concept in his art form.
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Jackson Pollock "Convergence"

What could be called Pollock's most famous work, "Convergence" is an excellent example of his action painting, with explosions of color scattered across the canvas. This freeing style was interpreted by the United States government and CIA to symbolize freedom of speech/freedom of expression(ironic, as it was painted during the cold war in the midst of the second red scare). "Convergence" and others alike were used as a sort of patriotic propaganda, meant to separate and elevate the aforementioned values of the United States in comparison to the Soviet Union and other communist nations. Yet, for Pollock, the style and process were representative of a rebellion from societal constraints and the conventions of traditional painting, without explicit political connotations. In his paintings Pollock demonstrates the joy he feels in creation.

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Jackson Pollock "Full Fathom Five"

"Full Fathom Five" was one of Pollock's first pieces using the method of action painting, his drip technique, and his custom of embedding nails, tacks, keys, coins, or buttons into the surface of the work to give t he piece a sense of resistance. Like many of his other works the piece stressed the use of continuous line, rather than the conventional style of broken brushwork. Critic Wemer
Haftmann eloquently stated, "the painting recorded the energies and states of the man who drew it.”. Through Pollock's style, the characteristics of the line were determined by various variables, ever changing and evolving with each piece. Depending on the angle of the brush, texture of the paint, or simply the energy of the artist the painting would morph into something new and original, entirely dependent on the preceding process.