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Wednesday Aug 12, 2009
Jackson Pollock was killed in an automobile accident on August 11, 1956; Jackson, the driver, was drunk.
From An Artist Empowered:
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. Letting the critics and public decide for you is giving away your power. The public didn’t make his art great; the Creator did. Knowing this, not merely giving lip service, would have brought him a sense of peace and healing.
The problem was that Pollock didn’t know why he had become successful, which was like having one hand dripping paint while the other held a pistol playing Russian roulette.
If you don’t know where your art came from, then you may feel that your current success is a fluke and that you may not have any talent at all. This describes the tyranny of public opinion as fueled by the artist’s angst and uncertainty. If an artist is sure of himself, he is perceived as arrogant. If he is weak, befuddled, and angst-driven, he is fair game and fodder for exploitive books and films. If he is assertive, mentally sound, and caring, then he is an empowered artist—the one who concerns us here.