In the book, Olivia by Ian Falconer, Olivia views Jackson Pollock’s 1950 piece, Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET) in New York City. On the MET’s website, Pollock is quoted, proclaiming, “I intend to paint large movable pictures which will function between the easel and the mural." The title of this piece is meant to reflect “nature’s constant flux” and Pollock is said to be a revolutionary painter. However, Olivia takes one look at this piece and decides she doesn’t understand it, “‘I can do that in about five minutes,’ she says to her mother.”
When there is a gap of understanding caused by abstraction, it must be filled. Some artists fill it slowly with 4 years of specific training in school. More individuals invest the time to read and digest the wall text that is oftentimes abstract in and of itself. In most situations, exemplified by Olivia’s reaction, the gap is so insurmountable that they are forced to retreat back to reality and reduce the piece to its formal qualities: a bunch of paint splashed on a canvas.