Posts Tagged ‘Pollock’

For most of last year I was immersed in geographic academia and geographical detail remains intriguing to me. This morning I chanced to hear just the beginning of a radio interview with Jake Gorst, director of Modern Tide, about modernist architecture on the East Coast of the US.. The first thing that struck me was his statement that Long Island was 100 miles long. I don’t know why this hadn’t registered with me in the past. But on reflection it makes sense, as many of my literary/arts favourites have some sort of connection to the island and yet I had never really connected.

Jackson Pollock lived and died there. The Pollock Krasner house in Springs in the Hamptons is now a study centre and museum of sorts.

Both Armistead Maupin and Edmund White’s (especially Forgetting Elena) stories of Fire Island.

Large parts of John Irving’s “Widow for One Year” takes place in the Hamptons also at Sagaponack. This is not an easy book but captures human nature so well like much of Irving’s writing

The wonderful book “Architect of Desire” about the infamous Stanford White was largely located at the Box Hill estate in Smithtown.

The decline of Box Hill led me to research the fading history of Long Island and I discovered this website about the mansions of Long Island and the architectural relics of its heyday.

The mansions of course bring us to one of the most know Long Island stories “The Great Gatsby” and I was surprised how close to New York in modern terms Gatsby’s Estate was. Wikipedia states that ” In this novel, Great Neck (King’s Point) became the new-money peninsula of “West Egg” and Port Washington (Sands Point) the old-money “East Egg”. Several mansions in the area served as inspiration for Gatsby’s home, such as Oheka Castle and the now-demolished Beacon Towers.

New Picture

Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby and I am sure there are many many others….

Finally Rufus Wainright’s song Montauk is also a great favourite

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Action Jackson

In the tradition of the mothers of some significant artists*, I am forever torturing my children with art books. I actually learn a lot from them myself and the one home from the library at the moment is a complete gem.

“The authors, Greenberg and Johnson, focus on a semi-imagined account of an intense period in Pollock’s life—May through June 1950. The brief frenzy of work that produced the transcendent and transformational painting “Number 1, 1950” known as “Lavender Mist.” Strategic use is made of contemporaneous accounts and press sources including Hans Namuth’s photos and documentary film.”

I feel the book really captures what Pollock was doing and why and how. If it the weather was better, I’d lay out big pieces of paper on the back lawn, set out some paint, turn up the music and let the kids go for it. Next warm day maybe….

One of those books perfect for kids and adults alike.

* Clairmont and McCahon to name a couple.

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I am currently a kitchen table writer due to the fact that there is simply no space in our new house for my desk. This is ok but frustrating and leads to envy of such scheme as the Cuba Street Garret. Actually I would imagine anyone writing at home with children might dream of such a place.  Here Rachel King observes just what a treat “a room of one’s own” really is. For me this week, just having to break the stream of  thought to change a nappy was a wake up call.

I dream of a room of my own with a view (Woolf and Forster). Not too good a view though (distracting) and a few hours a week of child free writing and research time.  My reverie extends to this building not far from me. The upstairs is quite wonderful where the original wood work has been exposed. Maybe it is leaky and rat infested, but it would make a romantic work place. I do wonder what “exchange” in this context is. As its not too far from the old mills, so maybe wool exchange? It is also called the Souter Building which may give a clue (I have more research to do).

The next best thing is a day off – which is what I am doing tomorrow. Taking my camera, journal and a couple of books ‘to town’.

On a different tangent, I just love this from the Wooster Collective. Art insired street art – heaven.

from the streets of Los Angeles (swiped from Wooster Collective)

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Serve the servant

I have been having a discussion on various fronts in the last few days about artists older work compared to their new work.

Immediately on this topic I think of Jackson Pollock when he changed direction away from drip paintings. As he had a huge reputation , the new art was still in demand from collectors, what they really wanted and what the critics seemed more comfortable with, was the “splattered” ones. Artists (I am told) mostly hate their new work not being as favoured as the old – is that what happened to Pollock?.

Jackson Pollock. Easter and the Totem (1953)

So, an artist you can keep churning out what people expect or demand (and if you are lucky will pay the big $$ for) but at a guess I would say that would not be ultimately satisfying. To me, art is a constant exploration and evolution, and I would expect change and experimentation from artists. I have heard comments about artists “going off” or “losing their way” and I wonder – are these failed experiments or unfamiliar avenues being explored? Or are we just not so comfortable with change.

Another thing occurred to me. I have a penchant for 1970s art and have little idea why. When I see visual art from this period I am more often than not taken with it, later work takes more figuring out. As Peter Peryer said when he talked through the photographs at his Studio Show – “there is something going on in this picture” (an example here). In 1970s work I usually think I know what’s going on, with newer art I often have to work harder at it.

During these debates someoneiknow quoted this to me (from Nirvana):

Teenage angst has paid off well
Now Im bored and old
Self-appointed judges judge
More than they have sold

Even though I am a bit of cynic, I hope that isn’t true in regard to art, especially as I could be considered a “self appointment judge“.

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Colouring inside the lines

When my 5-year-old started school earlier this year, she had never been taught to “colour inside the lines”. We had colouring books around, but it was never a priority and I’d never bothered to explain how they were “meant” to work. This “inability” immediately made her suspicious to the teacher who saw it as a lack as when presented with a photocopied sheet to colour in she would simply turn it over and draw her own picture.

In the end I conceded the point that colouring in had an educational purpose e.g. how to operate pencils, crayons and brushes properly, co-ordination and a certain amount of discipline. I was helped along by this comment from tinks at OnemomentcallerDiscussing the school-based art education of their young kids, a contemporary art collector I know once suggested that you have to learn the rules before you can break them, which I kind of like, and suspect I’ll cling to in the coming years.” I also invested in this colouring book which helped me get my head around the colouring issue although as yet I haven’t let her loose on it. I still think a NZ edition would be quite brilliant – any publishers want to take me up on it? I’d be happy to do it and it would be a great seller Te Papa Press!

The issue made me think of how I used to look at abstract art. I always wanted to know if the artists could really paint/draw – you know, before they went all weird, because I wanted to see a technical ability that initially I couldn’t see in say a Pollock drip painting. Great technical execution is something I really admire in art but now I can see it in less orthodox works as well.

I’ve found it can also redeem mediums which I am not overly fond of. Recently I met an artist, Steve Hall, whose watercolours I just love. Maybe not your cup of tea but look at the light in “1907”. (yes, yes, the old NZ light issue)

Sadly it looks like I won’t be getting to the Angus Symposium this weekend, but on a brighter note “Evolution of Mirrors” arrived in the post so some good reading ahead.

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A bad influence

Some days I wonder if I unduly influence my kids – especially now my 5-year-old only draws lights in a Clairmont fashion.

3rd Panel of Staircase Triptych– Philip Clairmont

However the following “takes the cake” so to speak.  “[the party – for a 5 year old] had a gallery opening theme, at her insistence — each guest had to bring a work of art they’d made to put on the wall, and the cake was decorated to look like a Jackson Pollock canvas in progress“. I have to say I am impressed by the cake but I simply can’t imagine a kid asking for a Pollock cake (although maybe that’s where I am going wrong).

The Pollock Birthday cake (sure beats my Dora one)

I have to note that the whole context of art thing has taken on a life over at ArtBash. I like this simple little line “ART = context+art+viewer”. And I’d also reccommend “Privatising Culture” although its quite a tome.

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Strange days indeed…I’m having one of those “I have to accept I am never going to learn how to skateboard or surf” days. Even looking at surfboard and skateboard art is depressing. Its almost as bad as those days when you realise you are never going to trendy – or even funky. Lucy Jordan can have her sports car in Paris, I’d just like to be ‘hip’ for 1/2 a day :-)

I also wonder if I’ve missed the contemporary art bus (now there’s a visual image for you). I can’t even come up with a good definition of ‘Contemporary Art’ and I am finding Wikipedia annoying. The word/concept ‘Design’ is also proving challenging today. Does it really mean 1960’s orange German Pottery and $220 a roll modernist/atomic themed wallpaper? Actually the wallpaper is almost acceptable as it meets that ‘form and function’ criteria that I have in my head – but what is the function of art pottery? I guess there in itself, is the art/design delineation. Art does NOT have to have a function (maybe its a bonus if it does?). So is art just ornamentation then?

With all the gloomy talk of a recession I’ve been thinking about about art in that context too (as have others out there who are blogging). I somehow doubt there were schemes in NZ similar the Federal Art Project in the US in the Great Depression, but I think it was an interesting initiative. “New Deal arts projects were guided by two novel assumptions: artists were workers and art was cultural labor worthy of government support.” Didn’t Jackson Pollock (and Lee Krasner) come out of that? Some of the murals are pretty amazing – inspired by the Mexican mural movement and Diego Rivera. Of course there is the infamous Rockefeller Centre Murals incident (ahh – political art in its prime).

Rivera at work on the Rockefeller mural

I guess even in a depression there was money for art and I don’t think that will change much. Prices may drop, collectors may be more conservative, but art will continue to be made. On a slight tangent are the 1930’s murals anything similar to today’s bombing or throw ups or whatever you call it? Intent might be similar but there is the issue of permission – mind you, Rivera’s mural was quickly removed when “the man” didn’t like it.

More discussion on artists, families and sacrfice continues, so what about the aforementioned Lee Krasner? Obviously there was a Pollock influence but look at the earlier works.

Gouache Number 4 ( Study for Lavender)(1942) Lee Krasner

although she acknowledged Pollock’s superior gifts, she did not become his follower. More than three years his senior, she was a mature artist when they met and throughout her aesthetic evolution retained elements of her early analytical skills and structural sophistication.”

Way to go grrl!

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