Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's Not Art - Jackson Pollock

[There are some NSFW images at the bottom of the post]


"Every good painter paints what he is." - Jackson Pollock

It does not behoove an artist to say a good artist paints what he is and then proceed to paint the splatter of eviscerated remains floating on the cold, inky, blackness of a bottomless, patch of ocean. At night. Randomly.

Eh?

Wiki says:

Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was well known for his unique style of drip painting

Oh. Oh. Is that what you call it? I used to know this guy in school, Claire, and during the summer he worked on the maintenance crew of the college, painting and repainting classrooms. He would paint his work boots with the colour of paint he was using at that time. In time his boots had a multi-layered, industrial pastel rainbow appearance. That was art compared to Jackson Pollock's abstract expressionist drip style.



"It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well." - Jackson Pollock

Pure harmony when it works? A mess when he loses contact? Well, I fail to see the difference.

I think I can almost see something in this one. Coffee stains.

Komodo dragon with a buffalo body?

"I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own" - Jackson Pollock 

No fear destroying the image? Well done, then. If destroying the image is what an artist sets out to accomplish, and he accomplishes it, is that art?

Art as a subject is too existential for me. I need for things to make sense and art doesn't follow rules. In fact the rule is that there are no rules. If I have to stand and look at a piece of art and try and find meaning in it, it has failed by my standards. If I have to think about anything to 'get' it, it's failed.


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Standing on a huge canvas dripping paint all over it requires no talent. Just because it's big doesn't make it art and just because someone tells me it's art, doesn't meant I have to accept it. If I can recreate what this artist does, it's not art. Not to me, but then that's the "art is subjective" BS we're fed. If he thinks it's art, it's art. Art as a subject is a huge, flaky, pompous pain in the ass to me.

Which sounds a lot like Jackson Pollock himself. He used to paint with a stick while dropping cigarette ashes all over his canvases but I don't really care about that. A movie based on the man's life was released in 2000.




Over at this sight, Arthur Ball also dislikes Jackson Pollock and thinks he's an asshole as well. He created the above inanimate trebuchet Jackson Pollack painting creator. He says:

I made this to mock Jackson. It is a trebuchet. When you push the arm and brush down into the troth below filled with paint, then release it, the arm will fling paint forward to create splatters. People say sometimes that their child could create a Jackson Pollock. Well, I say an inanimate object can create a Jackson pollock painting.

Exactly.

And then there's art that's just ugly. I like art to be attractive. It doesn't have to be photorealistic or anything. It can follow many styles and mediums but it has to be attractive in some way. This is not attractive:



This is called "Gravity" by Michael Haussman. It's a video installation and here is a write up if you want to  check it out. It is described: 

Each of the five subjects is filmed in slow motion, floating upward then descending down to the earth, where they bottom out in gravity's clutch. Yet each person is magically stationary. They do not move an inch. All that moves is their skin, cellulite, muscles, bones, and expression, creating a disturbing yet beautiful shift in body mass and emotion. Even the background stays perplexingly still. The total effect is that of a moving painting.

OK whatever. If it was a scientific study of the visual effect of gravity on bodies, large and small, I would say it was interesting and filmed in an artsy way, but as art? Just art? I don't get it. "disturbing yet beautiful"? "A moving painting"? It annoyed the hell out of me. Maybe it's my inferior video card but the movement was nearly undetectable and who needs to see breasts bouncing up and down elongating to their* apex and nader because their owner is bouncing naked on a trampoline? Is this supposed to be Baroque video art a la Rubens? Yeah, no..

GRAVITY was chosen by LA Weekly as one of “10 Great Artworks at Art Platform Los Angeles Art Fair 2012”. Go figure.

*the Lad walked in here to say something to me, saw the "Gravity" video's capture of the redheaded woman, forgot what he was going to say, walked into the hallway and started banging his head on the wall saying: "No. No. No. No" in mock anguish. I rest my case.


8 comments:

iambriezy said...

Yup. Although I don't necessarily think art has to be attractive, it does have to make sense on some level. And it does have to be impossible for me, a completely talentless non-artist, to recreate.

Frimmy said...

No it doesn't have to be attractive. It does have to have some sense to it, I absolutely agree. Picasso's cubist style didn't produce attractive work but it did make sense on some level. Also, he has other non-cubist works that clearly show he was an artist in a more conventional sense of the word so he has credibility something Pollock does not have in my opinion. Picasso's Garcon a la Pipe is attractive for example.


What got me started on this subject was a post I saw about famous artists first paintings. Picasso's Picador, painted when he was eight, is cool as hell. I'm not completely fond of cubist works because it isn't conventionally attractive, but it obviously generates from genuine artistic talent and I can respect that. It has its own beauty if you want to think about it deeply. But I don't. I'd expend that kind of energy talking about books or philosophy or food or 600 thread count bed sheets or chameleons.

Frimmy said...

Or fractals

Frimmy said...

I sounded like I contradicted myself. The making sense is what is attractive, I guess is what I'm trying to say. If it makes no sense it's ugly. Pfft, I suppose "making sense" is subjective too. Art. As a subject I don't much like it, I think.

Tom Shelton said...

My definition of art: if you can't tell if it was painted by a chimpanzee or a human being, it's not art.

With Pollock you couldn't tell if it was painted by a chimpanzee, a human, or was the result of someone puking on the canvass.

Pollock was definitely an artist in one sense--the art of deception. He was able to con gullible people into accepted trash as art. Remember the story of the "Emperor's New Clothes." I'd guess Pollock was familiar with it.

Frimmy said...

I agree. He seemed to have a disregard or even disrespect for art, if anything. Dropping cigarette ash all over his paintings? Why not just splat a big hand kind flipping the bird?

asgtwaa said...

Fine artists, art historians, and art curators are together on the understanding that artists of modern times are not creators of beautiful things, or designers, but people who express a particular intention or push a conventional boundary through (typically) visual means.

I'm a believer of the idea that you shouldn't simply like or dislike something because of what historians, academics, etc, tell you. However, it can't be denied what these artists provided for artists to come. Pollock was a bit of a process painter, which in itself was something that was very new at the time, and unexplored. The beauty in his work relies just as much as the act of creation as the final product itself. Pollock believed that he was working from the unconscious mind, which was a relatively recent idea only being talked about by Sigmund Freud around 1900-1905, which is only about 45 years before Pollock began creating his abstract expressionist paintings. He felt his paintings were more similar to records of his psychological being, than say a portrait, or landscape.

Other artists experimentation led ways for others, whether it was refining, or moving in the opposite direction. To quote Willem de Kooning, "Every so often a painter has to destroy painting. Cezanne did it and then Picasso did it again with Cubism. Then Pollock did it- he busted our idea of a picture all to hell. Then there could be a new picture again."

All of that being said, no one is under any obligation to like, or find any piece of work visually stimulating; but the concept of "what is art" or "who is an artist", lies in the intent of the work.

Frimmy said...

Asgtwaa, Gifted Explainer of Abstract Concepts, the only thing missing from your comment was a final *mic drop*. I like the idea that Pollock's works were reflections of his psychological being. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. The Frimm abides.