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Annie Dell’Aria

Term coined during the height of Abstract Expressionism in the USA, with particular relevance to the work of painter Jackson Pollock. The ‘all-over’ quality of works such as Lavender Mist: Number 1, 1950 (Washington, DC, N.G.A.) refers to its lack of compositional structure (no apparent foreground, middleground, or background) as in traditional representational painting. It also suggests the lack of spatial delineations or focal points of any kind, creating an entirely abstract work that asserts the canvas’s flat surface and eschews any attempt at representational or symbolic interpretation (see fig.). The large scale of Pollock’s drip paintings made their all-over quality all the more impressive as the sprawled paint made the viewer survey the entire surface. Though initially used to describe Pollock’s drip paintings, the term was later applied to the colour field painters of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists. Furthermore, the term ‘all-over’ can be applied to a variety of abstract design strategies (for example, some works by Cy Twombly)....