Friday Jan 28, 2011

Dripping Bullets Redux

© Hans Namuth
Jackson Pollock,1950, Long Island, NY

Jackson Pollock was born today on January 28, 1912 in Cody, Wyoming.

Pollock was a great artist willing to take risks. Although he wasn’t the first to use action drip painting, it was his ‘drippings’ that caught on and catapulted him into fame, which, for Jackson, became as unendurable as being unknown. Despite recognition in his lifetime, his demons eventually won out.

From the chapter ‘Jackson, We Love You’ in my book, An Artist Empowered:

Jackson Pollock’s (1912-1956) rise to fame and subsequent self-destruction tells a story.

In the 1940’s, art collector and dealer, Peggy Guggenheim, arranged for Jackson Pollock’s first one-man show, which was a success; she also provided him with a monthly stipend of $150, and gave him a commission: a mural for the entryway of her New York apartment, a painting some called expensive wallpaper.

The American art critic Clement Greenberg, who saw truth in Pollock’s paintings, was one of the first to champion the artist’s work.

Despite being taken seriously by these and other makers and shakers in the art establishment, Pollock wasn’t an instant hit. He endured severe personal doubts and hard financial times for most of his life.

Pollock rightly recognized that his work came directly from the unconscious, in the Jungian sense; and while this might have been comforting to him on some level, the unconscious, the wellspring of humanity’s symbols and collective dreams, by itself was still far too abstract and impersonal to do his mental health any good. If the unconscious was the well, then who owned the land?

Despite a pithy quote from Pollock here and there, ultimately, he was more in touch with his judgmental ego than in sufficient contact with what made his art outstanding; this was the harbinger of his insecurity.


Thanks for the parable of Jackson Pollack and his work. He had talent, worked hard, innovated, had backing of patrons, market success…but wasn’t solid inside.

I love this phrase:

“If the unconscious was the well, then who owned the land? “

Lots to think about there.

Janet Riehl

Posted by Janet Riehl on 02/02 at 05:16 PM.

Yes, being solid and grounded inside is the goal, not the end product of art.

After all, how can one laud the art form without respecting the process at its source?

Posted by Eden on 02/03 at 01:04 PM.

“After all, how can one laud the art form without respecting the process at its source?”

Well, ask the mainstream market culture.


Posted by Janet Riehl on 02/08 at 06:04 AM.


The main purpose of this blog and site is for individuals to elevate their awareness and comprehension of art—without relying on so-called ‘experts’.

Believing that someone else knows more about the ‘true’ nature and source of art than you do is a disservice to yourself. But, with the freedom and reward of finding out for yourself, comes the responsibility for doing the work.

Posted by Eden on 02/08 at 12:26 PM.

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