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Jackson Pollock

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

JACKSON POLLOCK: AN AMERICAN SAGA is a massive creation. The authors interviewed more than eight hundred individuals over an eight-year period. This biography looks at Jackson Pollock through a psychoanalytic magnifying glass. The picture that comes into focus is not very comforting. Pollock’s art was bold, but his personal life was full of torment. Indeed, some critics have charged that Pollock’s stature as a great American artist is diminished by the authors’ relentless display of how reprehensible Pollock could be as an individual. JACKSON POLLOCK is definitely a “warts and all” type of biography.

Pollock was born on a Wyoming sheep ranch in 1912, the fifth son of Stella and Roy Pollock. Jackson did not grow up in a stable environment. His mother was domineering and his father eventually deserted the family. It is intriguing to learn that Jackson was not the son who was supposed to become an artist. There was a sibling rivalry that never went away, and a resentment by some family members when Jackson became famous. In 1930, he quit school and traveled to New York City, where he enrolled in an art class taught by Thomas Hart Benton. Young Pollock’s evolution as a painter is presented with great care. There was turmoil welling up inside him, and by the mid-1930’s he had developed a serious problem with alcohol. There is no doubt based on the evidence presented that Jackson Pollock was an alcoholic. When he drank he would become unruly and at times extremely violent. The compassion of friends and loved ones was tested on many occasions.

Pollock met Lee Krasner in 1941. She was to become his lover, wife, and caretaker. She stopped her own career as a painter so that she could nurture his. The authors conducted many interviews with Krasner before she died in 1984. Jackson Pollock was the center of the American art world by 1950. His style was admired by some and ridiculed by many. Art was changing; that is, the definition of what constitutes art was being challenged. This biography is a must for getting an idea of what it was like when...

(The entire section is 503 words.)