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In 2000, Jackson Pollock(1912-1956) was the subject of an Academy Award–winning film Pollock directed by and starring Ed Harris(1950- ). I watched this film last night in Tasmania, more than ten years later.(1) I won’t give you chapter and verse of the plot, the characters or, indeed, the life-narrative of Jackson Pollock beginning as the film did in the early 1940s, when Pollock was nearly 30, until his death in 1956, by then a world-famous artist in the abstract expressionist movement. I’ll let you read these details for yourself, if you are interested.
My interest in the film is in Pollock’s alleged (BPD)bipolar disorder,(2) and how this disability played itself out in the volatile personality of this artist’s life and, finally, in his death when I was just entering puberty. I have been afflicted with this same BPD which I have dealt with by medications and not alcohol and sex, a fatal combination in Pollock’s case. I had the steadying hand of a wife, as Pollock did, and a steadying set of values and beliefs which Pollock did not. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) TDT TV, 9 & 10/12/’11, 11:50-2:25 a.m., and (2)Albert Rothenberg, “Bipolar Illness, Creativity, and Treatment,” The Psychiatric Quarterly, Vo. 72, No.2, pp. 131-147.
Absolutely driven, Jackson:
wonderful stuff when you
are in control, on the even
keel…and not giving in to
those demons at the edge.1
I had help from psychiatry
and you had to do it all by
yourself…in those archaic
days before chemotherapy
and these many new forms
of talk therapy which came
into society & my times after
you died, Jackson. Thank God
I was a war baby and not one of
those from what they now call…
The Greatest Generation.2
1 Among the many views of Pollock’s work the following from Wikipedia provides a taste. The art critic Clement Greenberg supported Pollock's work on formalistic grounds, that is, he saw Pollock’s work as fitting well into Greenberg’s view of art history as a progressive purification in form and the elimination of historical content. Greenberg therefore saw Pollock's work as the best painting of its day, the 1950s and 1960s. It was, he said, the culmination of the Western tradition going back, via Cubism and Cézanne, to Manet. The critic Robert Coates once derided a number of Pollock’s works as “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore meaningless.”
2 The generation born between 1911 to 1924: see a fascinating table of the names ascribed to different generations going back to 1588.
Last edited by RonPrice; January 29th, 2012 at 07:16 AM. Reason: to add some words
married for 46 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 14, and a Baha'i for 54(in 2013).