The role of art historian as biographer is beset with contradictions, an artist's life and art being neither mutually exclusive nor synonymous. Balanced in his life on the edge of destruction and in his art on that of innovation, Pollock mirrored a chaotic world, one in which humans seemed to have lost control. Less gossipy than Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith's Jackson Pollock ( LJ 8/89), this book treats Pollock's personal life, creative work, and cultural milieu as discrete elements that produce a gradually developing image, not always in accord with the public's view of Pollock as rebellious cowboy or counterculture loner. Pollock was the major force behind the transfer of avant-garde art from France to the United States and the American idiom in which it was expressed. This "American Prometheus" is well served by this elegantly illustrated, carefully annotated, and well-written work.
Jackson Pollock's (1912-1956) first large-scale painting, Mural, in many ways represents the birth of Pollock, the legend. The controversial artist's creation of this painting has been recounted in dozens of books and dramatized in the Oscar-winning film Pollock. Rumors--such as it was painted in one alcohol-fueled night and at first didn't fit the intended space--abound. But never in doubt was that the creation of the painting was pivotal, not only for Pollock but for the Abstract Expressionists who would follow his radical conception of art --"no limits, just edges." Mural, painted in 1943, was Pollock's first major commission. It was made for the entrance hall of the Manhattan duplex of Peggy Guggenheim, who donated it to the University of Iowa in the 1950s where it stayed until its 2012 arrival for conservation and study at the Getty Center. This book unveils the findings of that examination, providing a more complete picture of Pollock's process than ever before. It includes an essay by eminent Pollock scholar Ellen Landau and an introduction by comedian Steve Martin. It accompanies an exhibition of the painting on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from March 11 through June 1, 2014.
In the years between the two world wars, the enormous vogue of "things Mexican" reached its peak. Along with the popular appeal of its folkloric and pictorialist traditions, Mexican culture played a significant role in the formation of modernism in the United States. Mexico and American Modernism analyzes the complex social, intellectual, and artistic ramifications of interactions between avant-garde American artists and Mexico during this critical period. In this insightful book, Ellen G. Landau looks beyond the well-known European influences on modernism. Instead, she probes the lesser-known yet powerful connections to Mexico and Mexican art that can be seen in the work of four acclaimed mid-century American artists: Philip Guston (1913-1980), Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), and Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Landau details how these artists' relationships with the Mexican muralists, expatriate Surrealists, and leftist political activists of the 1930s and 1940s affected the direction of their art. Her analysis of this aesthetic cross-fertilization provides an important new framework for understanding the emergence of Abstract Expressionism and the New York School as a whole.
Abstract Expressionism is arguably the most important art movement in postwar America. Many of its creators and critics became celebrities, participating in heated public debates that were published in newspapers, magazines, and exhibition catalogues. This up-to-date anthology is the first comprehensive collection of key critical writings about Abstract Expressionism from its inception in the 1940s to the present day. Ellen G. Landau’s masterful introduction presents and analyzes the major arguments and crucial points of view that have surrounded the movement decade by decade. She then offers a selection of readings, also organized by decade, including influential statements by such artists as Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Barnett Newman as well as the commentary of diverse critics. Offering new insights into the development of Abstract Expressionism, this rich anthology also demonstrates the ongoing impact of this revolutionary and controversial movement. Reading Abstract Expressionism is essential for the library of any curator, scholar, or student of twentieth-century art.