July 28, 2009

On jackson pollock


I've never been a fan of his work, but like most people who've taken far too many art classes down through the years I have had to study his work and creative process. This evening I watched the ed harris film pollock. I have seen it playing on movie channels, here and there, but never actually watched it until tonight. A few things about the film struck me.

One is the creative process itself. Whatever your medium, we have all been through this. There is a scene in the movie where harris as pollock sits and stares at a blank canvas until his idea kicks in. This is the same for everything you do that flows from your mind. I've stared at wood, stone, clay, blank computer screens, and the floor... waiting for it to kick in. Where do you find it? What motivates you? There is no answer.

There are a couple of lines from the movie I liked. One scene finds pollock's girlfriend going on and on about his work with a technical eye, pointing out what it is that he is doing. Where he is using the influences he has had, and how he is relating to the world around him, and labeling each color and stroke he is putting on the canvas with the eye of a well trained art critic. Pollock, smoking a bent cigarette while he paints, looks over at her with a disgusted expression and says, "I'm just painting." This same thought is summed up later in the film when he says, "If people would just look at the paintings, I don't think they would have any trouble enjoying them. It's like looking at a bed of flowers, you don't tear your hair out over what it means."

This taps into one of my personal philosophies...

"Leave the artist alone"

No matter what the work consists of or how it is done, you have no idea what the motivating factor behind it is. To recognize principles you may have heard of or learned about in some sort of class is a "good for you" scenario. The same goes with labels, if you recognize the influence of something in the writing or painting you are looking at, good for you.. But that's not what the art is about... Take each piece on it's own, the merit of a single work stands within itself, regardless of the labels that can be applied to it... The same pretty much goes for everything in life... The best works mean something different to each person that experiences it. Whether it's a song, a painting, a novel or whatever... when you can see it, listen to it, or read it and make it your own, it has succeeded.. This is also why I tell my kids repeatedly when we are at a show, whether it's at a gallery, a museum, or even an arts & craft fair... "Save the opinions until we are gone" the saddest person in the world is an artist attending his own showing...

"Let each thing in life be judged according to it's own merits"

Vampires... When watching the movie my son was asking questions about the people surrounding pollock.. Why he put so much stock in what they said or did. Pollock was weak, just as we all are. He looked for acceptance from his family and from the "art world" more than he was willing to admit. That's a vicious cycle we are all guilty of at times... He fell victim to the first thing that happens when you create something, the "why don't you" syndrome... Usually the first thing said when someone sees your work, is money... "Why don't you sell this at/on..." We all dream of making a living from our creative abilities, this rarely happens, and if it does it's a blessing... Just ask any professional athlete... The danger comes when we weaken ourselves in order to move in circles we think will move our career forward. This is dangerous in that we will most times lower our standards for the sale. The vampires will move in and begin to take over your existence... The worst of these is the dread critic... Just be thankful for a sale if it happens and move on. The power of creation is not within the money that could be made, but within the center of our own being when you are personally satisfied with what you have done... you are your own worst critic, why listen to someone else. Another type of vampire that attaches itself to you comes in the classification of idiot. These are the people that like what you do and seek to make themselves a part of it by any means they can. Avoid these parasites at all costs. They bring nothing but destruction. Their hearts are small and mean, they live only to see the crash at the car race, whether they will admit it to themselves or not. They can be spotted easily when they begin to imitate what you do... or label your work with condescension masking jealousy... "It's so crafty"

"Vampires usually exist because they can't do it themselves, so they become like a mass of gnats that you must continually swat to keep going... mere bugs"

The eternal question... Does the best art come from a self destructive person... No. As shown in this film, when pollock's wife removed the vampires that brought with them "fun times" (read alcohol) his work excelled. There is a certain appeal to the bugs of a two fisted drinking, whore bedding, loud, brash creative force, often labeled "larger than life"... (More aptly labeled, "Dead"...) A drunken idiot is just that, a drunken idiot.. There is nothing appealing to me about a drunk adulterer. Keep your ass out of the bars and your penis in your pants...

"Talent is a rare thing and drawn from many places, some use vice, some use nothing... for them.. it's just there..."

I would imagine that pollock could have created more works had he not ended up here after a drunken, adulterous rampage... Shame we will never know...


"even in death the bugs pester the man with drink"

7 comments:

John Pender said...

I don't search for that driving force or actively seek it out. When the inspiration comes, it comes and there's nothing I can do about it.

Junebug said...

Sometimes when I say something about a piece you are working on I might suggest something or tell you however it turns out it will be great because YOU made it.
You really are talented and have a good eye for your carvings!

Cat said...

This is a perfect post for me to consider as I approach fall semester and my literary criticism course.

wendy said...

oh, I love it when you make me think.

C.S. Perry said...

Well...My Ex-Wife read this and thought that we were fighting. I have no idea what Jackson Pollock has to do with us fighting.
I hate his paintings.
Maybe we should fight baout it.

Clay Perry said...

how many ex wives does it take to screw in a light bulb?

David Boyd, Jr said...

i gotta say, pollack is one of my favorite artists of all time... one, because his is american, two, because he painted the human condition without the use of typical imagery and three, his work is amazing... to keep this in context, i also love all of the abstract expressionsists, as well as more traditional artsist. usually don't tell people this because there are two types of people in the world: people who know who pollack was, and people who don't, you could also say there are people who like his work and people who don't. most don't and that is just fine with me. most people don't like what i like. i could look at his work all day. i have had too many art history courses, and probably know more that i should, but i believe in art for arts sake... i tell my students all the time, you just have to let art wash all over you, especially pollack. a wise man once said, any man can hit keys on the piano, but it takes a musician to play the right ones together...