04 May, 2007

Pollock Links & References

Galaxy, 1947
Jackson Pollock

Update May 28th., 2008: See also The Jackson Pollock Researcher for the comprehensive and current links on Jackson Pollock.

Originality was the hallmark of Jackson Pollock's art. He found a way to both connect with, and yet break free of whatever else had been happening with art. It's a little hard to appreciate the originality of Pollock from our high horse of retrospection. I liken it to some of my experiences with rock climbing. Sure, a particular rock climb will have a difficulty rating and a status as severe or hard, but when you go to climb it, you feel that it isn't as hard as described. Well, put yourself in the sticky shoes of the very first ascensionist. What was the experience like for him?

So, imagine the first "pure" abstraction. How does one completely eliminate the subject from a painting? The Abstract Expressionists often likened abstract painting to getting "in touch" with your inner child, because children draw and paint with freedom and innocence. I argued with that comparison until I had my own children picking up pencils and crayons. Now, I completely believe in the childlike aspects of abstract visual expression. Now, I just have to work out my objections to the "primitive man" comparisons to painting abstraction.

My own experience with abstraction took place when I took a workshop from Diane Townsend, who happens to be a great abstractionist with ties to New York and my hero Wolf Kahn.

How do you begin painting abstractly? Townsend unlocked that door for me, and before noon on the first day I was having a great time painting "nothing". I hope to continue my exploration of abstraction in the near future. It actually can be one of the hardest styles to paint in and make anything really good. My abstracts can be seen here and here.

Let's follow some link paths for Jackson Pollock.

Steven Naifeh and Greg Smith have written a Pulitzer prize winning biography titled: Jackson Pollock, An American Saga. I have some serious misgivings about it's historicity, but suffice it to say that it seems to be the "go to" book now for looking at his life. Ed Harris brings it to our attention in his comments about his movie about the keen artist.

Harris also thinks Pollock may have been manic-depressive. Of course, my first inclination would be to look up the paperwork on his 4-F status, just in case that might reveal something about a diagnosis of this or something similar. I guess he also saw therapists, and the records from that probably reveal something, too. Shades of van Gogh.

Pollock's Studio Floor

Don't miss the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in East Hampton (Long Island). This small property with rustic facilities was purchased by Pollock and Krasner with help from Peggy Guggenheim, who was Pollock's "super-patron". It was here that Pollock began his drip paintings, and you may visit this museum and walk on the floor where his drips are preserved. Could these be considered accidents?

I recommend the Pollock bio written by the director of the P-K House, Helen Harrison.

There is a Pollock-Krasner Foundation, which I think is a very classy move by the late Lee Krasner, who was left as a widow by her drunken and cheating genius-artist husband. Trying to figure out what made Krasner's relationship with Pollock tick is an exercise in head-trips that some may enjoy. We'll look at the wonderful Krasner a little later in our Abstract Expressionist study this month.

The National Gallery of Art in DC has a good site about the old boy. A quick look at his process is seen in this GIF - Video. Here's a Quicktime featurette of a Hans Namuth film of the Camel-smoking curmudgeon at his task of working a horizontal canvas.

I have to limit the scope of JP references found at the Museum of Modern Art, since they are numerous. Man, this stuff is knee-deep. How does one have an "itinerant childhood"? Uh, never mind the MoMA for now...

Of course, my favorite site for Jackson Pollock is the fun and interactive "Create Your Own" Jackson Pollock by Milos Manetas. It's an ingenious flash page where you drip "paint" on your CRT screen. Of course, you don't control the color - those come as accidents. My only advice is cut loose, don't stay inside the frame, and don't stop too soon!

Links referenced above:

Administrative note:
I would have liked to provide an image of my "Jackson Pollock" done on the flash simulator, but it looks like that is blocked. I also wished to place the videos directly in my post, but it's beyond my capabilities at this time. Do follow the links because seeing the painting style of JP in action is an eye opener.
Still Coming-my movie review of POLLOCK.


Anonymous said...

I think that Jackson Pollock was probably a little worse then just manic depressive. If he indeed did all of the things Ed Harris's Character did in the movie POLLOCK then I think he had something worse then manic-depression. That is just my point of view though. I did not know the man,so I can NOT speak from personal experience. I could be wrong. I can relate to how he was though. I have added all of the links that you have posted about him. THANK YOU! As I do find he is very interesting because as I said I can relate.

Casey Klahn said...

The manic depressive in my family background was every bit as bad as that, and worse. Obviously, mental illness comes in degrees.
I found myself feeling pretty empathetic to the Pollock family, and bad for JP himself after the movie.
Of course, we get to enjoy his art forever, which is a silver lining of sorts.

jafabrit said...

fabulous post and links. I started to appreciate his abstractions more and more as I learned to paint. I realized that it took a lot more than just dripping colours onto a canvas. Seeing them in the real was fantastic.

Anonymous said...

jafabrit, you saw them in REAL LIFE!? How kewl is that?

Casey Klahn said...

Angela, I saw them at the MoMA in NYC. But, you're close to DC - I know they must have one at the National Gallery.

Philip said...

I also saw his work at MOMA a few years ago and the huge paintings were truly breathtaking. He was a great free thinker and a fantastic inspiration. I think about him a lot when I am working.

Anonymous said...

I guessed that and that is why your work is so inspiring to me Philip.
Anyhoo, if you guys lived closer I'd save up and ask you for a ride to go and see them! I bet that is soo inspiring!You two are sooooo lucky! :)

Anonymous said...

I did not mean to leave you out jafabrit, I think your lucky toooooo! Your all three wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Pollocks depressive nature mirrors that of the french artist Delancy Rousseau.Delancy took great Inspiration from Pollock but suffered
with a split personality.Many of his works he destroyed in fits of temper.His long suffering friend would always show him a copy of Pollocks work and that seemed to calm the mad frenchman down.

Linda Roth said...

I don't know is it's possible to shake totally loose of subject. Jackson's work seems shows me a love of the medium and a love for the painting process. It also speaks to me of the relationship that develops during the painting process--one mark provokes another--and also the eventual need to have something to hang on to--a spot of color, a shape,subconsciously spaced to fulfill a need for pictorial balance. I love his energy--and his floor; his floor, makes my floor look clean.

Casey Klahn said...

He led the way out from the paint brush and oils. But, this does not detract from your great comment, Linda. He was connected to an idea and the marks (drips).

Now, I must clean my floor!

Abstract Expressionism, Art Criticism, Artists, Colorist Art, Drawing, History, Impressionism, Modern Art, Painting, Pastel, Post Impressionism