Jackson Pollock

American Abstract Expressionist Painter, 1912-1956

When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It's only after a sort of "get acquainted" period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. - quoted in Possibilities I, Winter 1947- 48

Excerpt from Jackson Pollock: An American Saga by Steven Naifeh, Gregory White Smith, 1998,Woodward/White
There was something behind the drinking that was pushing at Jackson from within, tormenting him, even trying to kill him. Jackson Pollock had demons inside. Everyone could see that. But no one knew where they came from or what they wanted.

There were two Pollocks: the shy, sober one, given to deprecating himself, saying in a soft voice, "I can't do anything but paint" or "the pictures just come to me"; and the drunken one that "behaved like a six- year-old, demanding to be the center of attention."
At parties, he would stare wordlessly into his drink, feeling "stripped of his skin" he said, by the unreturned glances of those around him. A friend described him as a "pained, painful person," who, when he did speak, spaced his words out like poles along a desert road, with "awkward, long silences" strung between them.

He was capable of sweetness and generosity as well as rage and insularity. In the midst of persistent - although often overstated-poverty, he lent other artists money, he helped friends remodel their houses, painted a bike for a neighbor's child, taught another to use a bow and arrow. He could diffuse bar room brawls with his notoriously beguiling smile or the "renowned twinkle in his eye," with a few disarming words or a well-aimed apology.

Like his rage, however, his sweetness was always followed by regret, a feeling that he had given away too much, and he would draw back into the hardshelled cowboy persona that was Jackson Pollock to the world. His life was a give and take, giving a small piece of himself-often inadvertently-then desperately trying to reclaim it-or obliterate it. Give and take. The world demanded that he give; the demons demanded that he take back. In his art, he concealed his images within layers of paint, systematically weaving them into an impenatrable web of lines and dribbles, spills and drips. Show and conceal; give and take. He veiled his art just as he veiled his life, to protect himself from the world without and the terrors within.

Links to other Jackson Pollock material:

Jackson Pollock Died. Jackson Pollock, 44, bearded shock trooper of modern painting, who spread his canvases on the floor, dribbled paint, sand and broken glass on them, smeared and scratched them, named them with numbers...; at the wheel of his convertible in a side road crack-up near East Hampton, N.Y. --Time Magazine August 20, 1956

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