Class Day 4

Last night’s class (February 21) was probably the most productive class so far.

Before class, I was even able to pick up a facsimile of Jackson Pollock’s sketchbooks from the library.

 

We usually are required to complete 3 readings before class. We then discuss those as a group. We also have two short writing exercises.

 

The first class writing assignment was a one sentence description of our topic:

My topic is Jackson Pollock. My aim is to show how the work of Jackson Pollock is strongly rooted in the art of the Renaissance.

 

The second writing exercise was to describe a traumatic event either in our lives or from our topic.

Pollock was drunk. Pollock was often drunk. He had started drinking on Saturday morning, and it was now 8 p.m.

He picked up his mistress, Ruth Kligman and her friend, Edith Metzger at Montauk station [sic].

Pollock was not only drunk. He was angry. 

Saturday August 11, 1956 was worse than most days. His wife, Lee Krasner was in Europe. She was the only person who could control Pollock. Today, he was drunk, angry and out of control.

Edith Metzger had not wanted to get in a car driven by Pollock who had a reputation for crashing cars while drunk. Pollock and her friend Ruth had convinced her to travel with them.

 

Jackson Pollock, artist, age 44, cause of death: car crash.

Edith Metzger, hairdresser, age 34 [25], cause of death: car crash.

Ruth Kligman, model, age 33 [26], sustained minor [serious] injuries.

After note: Ruth Kligman had invited Edith Metzger to join her at Pollock’s to try and reduce Pollock’s increasing possessiveness of her. Pollock was annoyed at Metzger’s presence.

 

 

I’ve had issues trying to define a structure for the term assignment. There is so much information which must be presented in one coherent sequence. Pollock will be the main character, and Tintoretto, my chosen Renaissance artist, just a passive passenger.

There are two other characters, Thomas Hart Benton and Lee Krasner. Since Pollock learnt from Benton and continued to maintain a friendship with him, he is important in providing the historical link to the Renaissance for Pollock. Lee Krasner presents a conflict in that she insisted that Pollock owed nothing to any teacher, and maintained strong control of the marketed image of Pollock. She was instrumental in getting him his first gallery representation with Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery. The gallery was named “Art of This Century”, hence the desire to minimize any influence on Pollock of earlier art.

There is a conflict not only in the representation of Pollock, but also in relationships with Pollock. Benton and his wife Rita were surrogate parents to the Pollock boys when they moved to New York. After Benton left New York to return to the mid-west, Pollock met Krasner. Krasner assumed the motherly role to Pollock.

The painting that I want to use as a part of the thread in the assignment is Pollock’s painting “Mosaic” which was commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim for her New York apartment. It has just been restored and we can now look at how it was painted, in conflict to how Krasner said it was painted. I hope to find a link to the working methodology of Renaissance artists.

I saw the painting “Mosaic” in both Venice and here, in Washington DC, where it is currently on display. Interestingly, in Venice, it was shown in an historical context. In DC, it is shown in a room only with Pollock’s work. The question of Pollock’s source is still open to debate, this time in a different context, and possibly for a different reason.

 

Tim Denevi, my professor for “Research for Narrative Nonfiction” had previously mentioned a clothes line technique for creating a narrative. Last night’s class exercise for each subgroup was to analyze a selected reading in relation to the clothes line. I finally saw how I could make it work for my term essay, although I still need to add the details.

The idea is that the story line is a clothes line on which you hang your facts. If you hang too much, your line will collapse.

First you attach your pegs to the line, and if these are sufficiently connected, they will strengthen the line. Then from each line, you hang the facts (or dense matter). The pegs help to add the “Narrative Arc” to the line.

 

For my story, my clothes line is the relationship of Pollock with the Renaissance artists.

The pegs are incidents in the life of Pollock with Benton entering, Benton leaving and Krasner entering. Peggy Guggenheim is the peg that introduces the painting ‘Mosaic”. The circumstances of Pollock’s death is not a peg as it does not affect the argument.

There is a competing thread of the line. The conflict on the line is Pollock’s learning from Benton, and Krasner’s refusal to acknowledge it. As a result the conflicting arguments of whether there is or is not a connection of Pollock to Renaissance art. The Krasner/Benton conflict will be presented only as it relates to the representation of Pollock.

From the pegs, I can hang character studies of Pollock, Benton and Krasner. Peggy Guggenheim and Tintoretto are only minor actors. These are all presented as a means of showing Pollock’s relationship to the Renaissance.

My seeing “Mosaic” in Venice and DC and the difference in presentation is another peg. The restoration of mosaic will be hung from this peg. That will also tie into the renaissance issue.

 

 

As Baldrick of “Black Adder” states “I have a cunning plan”.

I retired effective February 22. So I have lots of time for my cunning plan.

 

 

Key Dates
Pollock studies at Art Students League under Benton 1930 – 1932
Benton leaves NY 1935?
Krasner and Polockboth exhibit and met at McMillen Gallery 1942
Krasner visits Pollock’s studio 1942
Pollock signs contract with Peggy Guggenheim 1943
“Mosaic” 1943
Krasner marries Pollock 1945
Moves to Long Island 1945
Pollock dies 1956
Krasner manages Pollock estate 1956
I see my first Pollock in the exhibition “Two decades of American Painting” at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. 1967
National Gallery of Australia purchases Pollock’s “Blue Poles” 1973
 Australian Labor Party loses general elections. 1973
Benton dies 1975
Rita dies 1975
I visit US to see modern art. I see “Lee Krasner: A Retrospective”, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. 1983
Krasner dies 1984
I see Benton’s “America Today” exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 2014
I see Pollock’s “Mosaic” in Venice 2015
I see Pollock’s  “Mosaic” in Washington 2015

 

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