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,
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
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
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.
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