09 May, 2007


The Ed Harris Movie About
Our Artist

See the trailer for Pollock, here. Two thumbs up says Casey Klahn of Davenport, Washington. Of course, this comes from a guy whose standard movie fare is Scoobie-Doo and Cinderella. Any "grown-up" movie will float my boat, I guess.

As I was watching this DVD, first on our old Magnavox, and then on a little 13" red Dora The Explorer TV which seemed to run the disk better, I took notes to share with you. At first, I was fairly critical, probably because I wanted something else from the movie. I wanted a run through of the Who's Who among Abstract Expressionists.

They did feature Lee Krasner, of course. In fact Marcia Gay Harden won best supporting actress for her role as Pollock's artist "stand-by-your-man" wife. Val Kilmer puts a face on
Willem DeKooning. Clement Greenberg, Peggy Guggenheim, and Betty Parsons are important non-artists in the plot. Other artists featured were William Baziotes, Franz Kline, and Helen Frankenthaler, but I missed the references to them. Perhaps I needed name tags on them.

My interests run more towards JP as a member of the Abstract Expressionist movement. That's probably because he's not my favorite artist of that group. I have focused on him first this month because of his historic place in the AE-ists. He is the most famous one, after all. My favorite? Mark Rothko. Go figure. He's the one who masters color in abstraction, IMHO.

In short, I first had trouble with the movie's stereotyped take on Peggy Guggenheim, who was the super-rich patron and gallery owner. Typical power wielding, "you totally need me" gallerist that pulls the strings. Same with Clement Greenberg, the famous art critic biggie who "made" Pollock what he was.

But, after watching the tragic life play out, I did begin to soften my criticism. Ed Harris is a good student of the artist, who only chose to try his first effort at movie direction because nobody else had the understanding level that he did of the great American artist. And then, he took his movie all the way to academy award acclamation. Not bad for a beginner - I would say the parallels to the originality of JP are there.

Go rent this movie if you haven't done so already. It's a rare contemporary movie about the courage of artists who live to paint originally, at any cost.

Trivia Note:

Mark Rothko entries on Google - 1,040,000
Jackson Pollock entries on Google- 1,430,000
"Casey Klahn" entries on Google- 1,510
I have a long, long way to go...

(data collected May 9th, 2007 @ 9 AM)


Anonymous said...

Ed Harris did do a wonderful job in that role. I totally agree with ya there Casey! :)
The scene when Lee came knocking on Jackson's door saying "I thought I knew all the abstract artist's in NY and here I found I didn't know Jackson Pollock. Being cheeky I just hopped on over here, I can come back another time if you like" or something like that. hehehehehe I bet in real life Lee was blown away by his work everywhere!
Anyhoo, I agree 100% that if you like art you should go out and watch this movie! :)

Philip said...

I think it's a 'must see' movie for anyone who doesn't know much about him. Ed Harris looked so much like him and got the feel of the man perfectly IMO.

I think the difference between Pollock and Rothko (whom I also admire) was that Pollock introduced rythm into art as well as colour. I am not saying he was the better artist though - just more rock 'n'roll about him.

Casey Klahn said...

Yeah, Angela. I'm fascinated by the interaction that the AE artists had with one another in NYC. They lived in the same area of town and commiserated - it gave them a somewhat unified direction.
The blog-o-shere is doing something unique for us today, in a way parallel to what the AE (Abstract Expressionists) had.
Philip, good point on the rhythm. I actually don't think that Pollock intended to "dance" his way around a floor canvas. I think he just moved as necessary to put the drips down as he saw it.
And, I would say "jazz" is more correct than "rock & roll". I wanted to put a jazz background to a post about him, but the technology got the better of me this time. Maybe I can pull that off for a near future post. After all, I am reading "Web Pages for Dummies".
It is a hard call trying to compare Rothko and Pollock. They seem to lead their "division" of AE, the one defined "action painting" and the other "color field painting".
I disagree with those division names and definitions, BTW. More on that as we progress.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think that Ed Harris has SIMILAR features but I do not think he looks exactly like Pollock did.
I think that only people that actually knew Jackson Pollock could actually say that he totally
captured that role. Although, WITH THE INFORMATION THAT WAS GIVEN TO HIM,Ed Harris did do a good job.
I do think that the feel that is in Pollocks work came across well. It was very well done in the scene when Ed Harris goes wild in painting. I just couldn't help but think "GO POLLOCK GO" When he was sitting there looking at a blank canvas trying to figure out what to put on it. Lee comes in there and say's "It's been over 3 weeks!Peggy is starting to reconsider"
"What do you see there Pollock?"

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