Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Today, Google reminded me it's Jackson Pollock's birthday.
"Fuck Picasso!" Eddie Harris as Pollock shouts in a alcoholic stupor one minute into the film, "Pollock."
Seems Pollock had an attitude.
Pollock was the great abstract expressionist artist, part of the vibrant post-war New York bohemian scene that totally changed how we view the world and relate to it. His breakthrough moment in the movie shows Pollock laboring in the barn that is his studio in the Hamptons (back when Long Island's Hamptons was a cheap place to live). His wife Lee Krasner (played by Marcia Gay Harden) looks approvingly at her husband's canvas - lustrous Zen drips - and remarks:
"You've cracked it wide open."
Don't ask me why, but I instantly connected to those drips. Even as a kid, those drips spoke to me.
A couple of years ago, I experienced the joy of touring New York's MOMA with my grown daughter from New Zealand. We stood in front of a Pollock. I watched her face, resisting, quizzical. Suddenly her expression changed, she lit up. She "got it."
Pollock was a notorious alcoholic, and a strong case can be made that he was self-medicating his undiagnosed bipolar. He would have been 97 today. Instead, one summer night in 1956, in a drunken stupor, he drove his car off the road killing himself and a woman passenger. He hadn't done a painting in two years.
Further reading from mcmanweb:
"The paintings are like a reverse Rorschach test, where nothing bears the faintest semblance to anything we can see, yet each drip, each splatter, individually or as a grouping or as a whole, seems to act as the perfect register to how we think and feel."