Pollock, by Leonhard Emmerling

My Copy: 9783836512763 (image from bookdepository.com)

Oh boy. I’d almost forgotten I had this book, but when things get me down, I have to look through this one. There’s something about Jackson Pollock’s work, and not only because they made a movie about the man (which is damned good and sticks as closely to the facts as possible for a biopic).

There’s something about the paintings I can get, and this book has a great deal to see. It’s not comprehensive, just kind of a biographical introduction to the man.

The book is the 25th anniversary Taschen publication of Pollock, only about 96 pages long, but full of great information and wonderful paintings. Taschen doesn’t skimp on quality for their reproductions and the pages are nice and thick, letting the color really come out.

As for Jackson Pollock himself, this book is a great introduction to the man’s work, giving some basic info about the man’s life and career, influences (like Jungian psychology), the movements he traveled in or avoided, and politics of the art world. Pollock learned from various people and worked in a time when many American artists were looking for expression that didn’t copy European styles.

Pollock was influenced by European artists, but also found much in Native American art and the Mexican muralists. He discarded the idea of “American Art.” To him, art didn’t have geographical boundaries.

I thought that was pretty smart, and probably a rather freeing mindset. It let him learn and create at the same time.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand Jackson Pollock better, or what made his work so popular, or see a brief retrospective on the man’s career. He did tons of work before the famous “drip paintings” that most know him for today, and I’ve seen a few at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston when they’ve come and gone to the gallery walls.

Now, some of the work I think is hideous, but that’s in my own eye. Most of it I’m happy to take in at once and then move my eyes around the corners, sweeping back and forth to find more details. Naturally, seeing them in person is better if you can swing it, and see the 3-D nature of the paint and canvas. I am not an art critic, but the paintings are done with remarkable energy you can feel just looking at them (especially the drip paintings), but most of the other works, too.

And I agree with many artists’ and critics’ assessments, when they say he did his best work the years he’d stopped drinking.

Worth a look if you don’t want to thumb through thick volumes on the man, and want to enjoy some wonderfully copied paintings in the meantime.

Mural (1943), commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim. I have to say there’s something about it that I absolutely love. It’s probably the energy. Credit ArtMag.

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