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The Jackson Pollock Code
Decoding Jackson Pollock
Did the Abstract Expressionist hide his name amid the swirls and torrents of a legendary 1943 mural? An art historian makes the case for a signature gesture
By Henry Adams
Smithsonian magazine, October 2009
Did Jackson Pollock camouflage his name in Mural?
It was my wife, Marianne Berardi, who first saw the letters.
We were looking at a reproduction of Jackson Pollock's breakthrough work, Mural, an 8-by 20-foot canvas bursting with physical energy that, in 1943, was unlike anything seen before.
The critic Clement Greenberg, Pollock's principal champion, said he took one look at the painting and realized that "Jackson was the greatest painter this country has produced." A Museum of Modern Art curator, the late Kirk Varnedoe, said Mural established Jackson Pollock as the world's premier modern painter.
I was researching a book about Pollock's lifelong relationship with his mentor, Thomas Hart Benton, the famed regionalist and muralist, when I sat puzzling over a reproduction of Mural after breakfast one morning with Marianne, herself an art historian. She suddenly said she could make out the letters S-O-N in blackish paint in the upper right area of the mural. Then she realized JACKSON ran across the entire top. And finally she saw POLLOCK below that.
The characters are unorthodox, even ambiguous, and largely hidden. But, she pointed out, it could hardly be random coincidence to find just those letters in that sequence.
I was flabbergasted. It's not every day that you see something new in one of the 20th century's most important artworks.
I'm now convinced that Pollock wrote his name in large letters on the canvasindeed, arranged the whole painting around his name. As far as I can tell, no one has previously made this assertion. Nor is there evidence that Pollock himself, who was loath to talk about his art and left behind few written records, ever mentioned this coded gesture.
I've shared my theory with several Pollock experts. They've had mixed reactions, from "no way" to "far-fetched" to "maybe."
"It's feasible," says Sue Taylor, an art historian at Portland State University, who has studied Pollock's 1942 canvas Stenographic Figure, which includes written symbols. "Pollock would often begin with some sort of figurative device to which he would then respondand eventually bury under layers of paint. Letters and numbers, moreover, frequently appear in works of the early 1940s."
It may not be possible to answer the question definitively unless scientists use X-ray scanning or some other method to trace which pigments were put down first. At the moment there are no plans to do such an analysis.
If my theory holds up, it has many implications. Mural, commissioned by the collector Peggy Guggenheim for her New York City apartment, is the stuff of legend. Owned by the University of Iowa since Guggenheim donated it in 1948, the painting is said to be worth $140 million. (A later Jackson Pollock painting, Number 5, 1948, reportedly sold in 2006 for $140 millionthe highest price ever paid for a work of art.) Mural is so central to the Pollock mystique that in the 2000 movie Pollock, the artist (played by Ed Harris), having stared perplexedly at a giant empty canvas for months, executes Mural in a single session the night before it's due to be delivered. That (standard) version of events, originally advanced by Pollock's wife, the artist Lee Krasner, reinforces the image of Pollock as an anguished, spontaneous genius. But the art critic Francis V. O'Connor has debunked the story, saying Pollock probably executed Mural during the summer of 1943, not in one night in late December.
Pollock's possibly writing his name in Mural testifies to an overlooked feature of his works: they have a structure, contrary to the popular notion that they could be done by any 5-year-old with a knack for splatters. In my view, Pollock organized the painting around his name according to a compositional systemvertical markings that serve as the loci of rhythmic spiralsborrowed directly from his mentor, Benton.
Pollock had studied under Benton for two years and once told a friend that he wanted Mural to be comparable to a Benton work, though he didn't have the technical ability to make a great realistic mural and needed to do something different.
I have found no evidence that Pollock wrote his name in such fashion on any other canvas. In a way, that makes sense. To Pollock, I think, Mural announced that he was replacing Benton, a father figure whom he once described as "the foremost American painter today." It was Pollock's way of making a name for himself.
Henry Adams is the author of Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock, to be published in November by Bloomsbury Press.
Pam Anderson Flashes New Zealand Runway
Celebrity Skin, Pam Anderson, Pam Anderson New Zealand, Pamela Anderson, Slideshow, Entertainment News
The day after flashing some plumber's crack at a press conference, Pam Anderson let it all hang out on a New Zealand runway.
Closing the A Muse fashion show, Pam walked out wrapped in sheer white scarf and no bra, dropping the layer at the end of the runway as she accepted flowers.
Thanks to DangerousMinds.net for the following link...
Art in Review
A mural recreating newspaper art by Emory Douglas, the official revolutionary artist of the Black Panthers in the 1960s and '70s.
Published: September 24, 2009
The New Museum
235 Bowery, at Prince Street
Lower East Side
Through Oct. 18
James Baldwin wrote that "artists are here to disturb the peace." He might have added that the artist's job is also to create peace in the midst of disturbance. Both sides of the picture apply to the work of Emory Douglas, who from the late 1960s to the late '70s was minister of culture in the Black Panther Party and its official revolutionary artist.
In these roles, he not only designed and illustrated the party's weekly newspaper but also created a wide range of political posters, broadsides and promotional cards in a vigorously resourceful, eye-zapping graphic style. In 2007 a younger California artist-activist, Sam Durant, organized a survey of Mr. Douglas's work for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and now that show, reconceived by Laura Hoptman and Amy Mackie, is at the New Museum.
Mr. Douglas joined the Black Panthers in 1967 after studying commercial art at City College of San Francisco. He began designing the newspaper with its second issue, and his illustrations for it were a direct response to the party's early experiences of harassment and civic conflict. He invented the visual symbol of the porcine police officer that became a Black Panther signature. His 1960s drawings were done fast and loose, and they still carry the heat of the perilous events, the political ardors and the pressure-cooker deadlines that produced them.
Later, as he turned to promoting the party's social programs providing free food and free clothing in black neighborhoods his work become more deliberate and polished, with single, powerful figures drawn in thick black outline against a patterned ground, with terse captions placed above or below. Drawing on American art of the 1930s, contemporary cartooning and Socialist Realism from Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere, his work was geared toward delivering unequivocal messages in forms that either jumped off the newspaper page or could be easily read from afar, taped in a window or pasted on a wall.
It's hard to convey that kind of immediacy in a museum setting, where art almost automatically turns into artifact. And the New Museum compounds the difficulty by presenting Mr. Douglas's work in reverential, precious-object terms, with newspapers and posters neatly arranged in a few vitrines sparsely distributed over a big space. The approach is classic white-box pure and a good example of how operating by the modernist letter can tamp down the art spirit.
But spirit comes through anyway. Mr. Douglas's works were meant to be in your face and in your gut, and they are, irrepressibly. His early images are shockers and utterly appropriate, on-the-spot responses to a shocking time, when a group of disenfranchised citizens under assault was trying to carve out a pacific and protected place for itself.
If Mr. Douglas's work from the mid-1970s tends to be milder in tone and more internationalist in focus, the issues it tackles poverty, war, health care, corporate rapacity are as immediate now as then. So it's a very good thing he is still hard at work. Under the auspices of the New Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Groundswell Community Mural Project, he recently collaborated with a team of New York City teenagers to produce an outdoor mural at 122nd Street and Third Avenue in Harlem. The painting is lively; it's soaked in Black Power history; it's permanent; and it's called "What We Want, What We Believe ."
Fall Of The Republic documents how an offshore corporate cartel is bankrupting the US economy by design. Leaders are now declaring that world government has arrived and that the dollar will be replaced by a new global currency.
President Obama has brazenly violated Article 1 Section 9 of the US Constitution by seating himself at the head of United Nations' Security Council, thus becoming the first US president to chair the world body.
A scientific dictatorship is in its final stages of completion, and laws protecting basic human rights are being abolished worldwide; an iron curtain of high-tech tyranny is now descending over the planet.
A worldwide regime controlled by an unelected corporate elite is implementing a planetary carbon tax system that will dominate all human activity and establish a system of neo-feudal slavery.
The image makers have carefully packaged Obama as the world's savior; he is the Trojan Horse manufactured to pacify the people just long enough for the globalists to complete their master plan.
This film reveals the architecture of the New World Order and what the power elite have in store for humanity. More importantly it communicates how We The People can retake control of our government, turn the criminal tide and bring the tyrants to justice.
Dean Martin as Matt Helm
When I was a little boy, I used to love the Matt Helm films. Of all the sub-Bond spy movie imitators of the Sixties, I liked the Matt Helm series the most. They were flashy, colorful, cartoony and simple enough for a five-year old to understand. That's how old I was when I discovered them. I thought Dean Martin was Matt Helm, agent of I.C.E. (Intelligence and Counter Espionage), first, and a singer second. "Matt Helm sings, too?" was kinda where my kid's brain took it, it was even more confusing for me when "Matt" would listen to Dino's records in the films.
The Matt Helm movies were fairly frequent "Movie of the Week" fare on network TV in the early Seventies. I'd watch them over and over again. I even read some of Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm novels which you could always find at garage sales for a dime. They were much more serious than the Matt Helm films' decidedly light-hearted approach.
Dean Martin, as he always did in nearly all his movies, played a fictionalized version of himselfsee Kiss Me, Stupid for the best example but in this case he was a jovial charming rogue of an alcoholic playboy super spy and not a jovial, charming rogue of an alcoholic playboy cowboy or a nightclub singer or airplane pilot, etc, etc. He was Dean Martin in James Bond drag, basically. And it worked. The Matt Helm films were some of the top grossing films of the Sixties. Even if they do seem dated and somewhat slow moving now, they were really popular in their day.
The ladies of the Matt Helm films were truly impressive, let's not forget about them. Some of the finest grade-A Sixties pulchritude on the planetAnn Margaret, Stella Stevens, Cyd Charisse (who was a very va va voomish 45-year old when she made The Silencers), Sharon Tate, Tina Louise, Elke Sommer (how I adored her!) and Nancy Kwan (ditto!)were all on Dean's list. You could certainly make the case that the Helm films rivaled the Bond films as eye candy for the male members of the audience. The ladies had Dino to look at, natch.
It's interesting to note that although the Matt Helm series obviously grew out of a desire to copy the success of the Bond films with a home-grown Hollywood version, the Bond franchise took on a decidedly Matt Helm-esque flavor during the Roger Moore years.
There's been a rumor for some time that Steven Spielberg wants to revive the series. I kinda hope that doesn't happen. What's the point after Austin Powers?
Michael Jackson confessed to Rabbi Shmuley: I'm an ugly 'lizard'
By Nancy Dillon
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, September 26th 2009
The man Michael Jackson saw in the mirror was a grotesque "lizard" who made him sick, according to a new book based on taped confessions.
Jackson was so terrified of growing "old and ugly," he wished he could lock the gates of Neverland and never come out, he says in "The Michael Jackson Tapes."
"I don't want to be seen now ... I am like a lizard. It is horrible," Jackson told a confidant, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
"If it weren't for children, I would choose death. I mean it," Jackson said almost a decade before he died of a drug overdose.
Boteach recorded more than 30 hours of talks with Jackson in 2000 and 2001 as part of a failed book project.
On the tapes, the King of Pop recalled physical abuse at the hands of his dad and told Boteach he had a crush on Princess Diana, wanted to date a widowed Katie Couric and considered Madonna "jealous" and "not sexy."
He said Madonna "laid down the law" before a date, telling him, "I am not going to Disneyland, okay? That's out."
He said Madonna tried to take him to a strip bar and initiate phone sex, but he refused.
The Big Picture
Patrick Goldstein on the collision of entertainment, media and pop culture
Is Ken Burns a secret propagandist for socialism?
September 24, 2009
I wasn't planning on DVR-ing Ken Burns' new six-part PBS series "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," which debuts Sunday night because: 1) I don't have 18 hours of room left on my TiVo; 2) judging from the title, I kinda already know where Burns comes down on the idea of national parks; and 3) I didn't give for KCET's last pledge drive and watching all that beautiful scenery will just make me feel more guilty.
But Time magazine's James Poniewozik, a columnist full of iconoclastic ideas about TV and pop culture, has come up with a brilliant take on "National Parks" that has suddenly aroused my interest in the series. In his mind, the "National Parks" project isn't just another Burns snoozefest that, as Poniewozik slyly puts it, finds the filmmaker "passionately arguing positions almost everyone agrees with." The series is actually an ingenious refutation of the popular conservative belief that big government is evil, outmoded and unnecessarily involved in ruling our lives.
Noting that the original impetus for establishing national parks came from naturalists like John Muir who were horrified to see how Niagara Falls was nearly destroyed by the greed and hucksterism of free market- loving charlatans, Poniewozik writes: "With America frothing over the role of government -- Should it save banks? Should it expand health coverage? -- 'The National Parks' makes a simple case for an idea that is wildly controversial in the year of the tea party: That we need government to do things the private sector can't or won't."
In other words, the entire origin of the national park system, whose most passionate backer was a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, is based on a firm belief in -- Glenn Beck, cover your ears, please -- government intervention to regulate an out-of-control free-enterprise system. In fact, one of the more dramatic moments in Burns' documentary involves the battle to create a park in the Great Smoky Mountains, while logging companies bankrolled anti-park ads and were "frantically cutting the old-growth forests to extract everything they could before the land was closed to them."
In some ways, Burns' new series sounds like almost as radical a critique of free market excess as Michael Moore's new "Capitalism: A Love Story." Of course, it's unlikely to cause as much of an uproar as "Capitalism" because Moore is a natural magnet for controversy while Burns' films, with their lilting music and cozy slo-mo zooms, can make the most incendiary historical events appear almost as soothing as a glass of warm milk.
However, Poniewozik has uncovered the razor blade inside Burns' cinematic pillow. To hear him tell it, Burns' portrait of the creation of our national parks should give conservatives pause in their rush to pillory government at every turn. As Poniewozik writes: "The national parks -- and 'The National Parks' -- are based on ideas that are classically, if not radically, communitarian: That the free market doesn't always act in the public interest. That it's good that every American shares ownership of and responsibility for the most exclusive properties in the country. And that it's right for people -- through government -- to protect them from business interests and even the people themselves." For this, I'd say bravo for Ken Burns, whose portrait of American ideals couldn't have come at a better time than right now.
Humor: 'Billy Beane Of Office Softball' Profiled
'Billy Beane Of Office Softball' Profiled In Book 'MoneySoftball'
September 27, 2009 | Issue 4539 | Onion Sports
OAKLAND, CAThe life and unorthodox softball philosophy of Alameda County Real Estate team manager and employee advocate Brian Kocher is extensively explored in the book MoneySoftball: The Art Of Winning A Meaningless Game, which will be officially released next week. "Koechler was the first to suggest that office softball teams overvalue players simply because they are big and fat, or because they played a little baseball in high school," author Michael Lewis said during a book signing Tuesday. "Kocher ruffled a lot of slow-pitch softball purists' feathers, but he saw early on the advantage of drafting female coworkers from HRtheir miniscule strike zones led to higher on-base percentages, and opposing teams were seven times more likely to be lax on the foul-out rule during their at bats. The man broke every paradigm in the book." Lewis spent the rest of the event answering questions about Kocher's intensity, particularly the time he threw a folding chair at the keg of beer standing at third base.