Sunday, December 04, 2005

Yeah, well, here are some pictures of my vomit: "Pollock"

Not sure where I heard it, but someone once said you know art is "art" when it provokes a visceral reaction.

My reaction to most modern art is most definitely visceral: I hate it.

Maybe that's a little harsh, but it's not far off the mark. When I lived in New York, I went to the Museum of Modern Art a few times, and I always left angry. What the hell is this ... a goldfish bowl just full of water? And is that two identical clocks just hanging next to each other on a wall? What the f*ck? Give me an hour in my house, and I'll give you a goddamn modern art gallery ...

Yeah, yeah ... I know it's not just the art, but the concept. But anyone without a job or any interest in getting one can come up with a concept if he sits on his ass long enough. Call me crazy, but I like art that is something I couldn't possibly do in a million years, not a toaster, a jar of Cheez Whiz and a jar of pennies on display while Rick Springfield's "Living in Oz" album plays in the background. ("We all need ... the human touch ... ")

This is all a way of saying that maybe I wasn't the best guy to watch a movie about Jackson Pollock, aka Mr. Paint Splatter Man. Sure, I've seen some Pollock paintings, and they're definitely unique. But c'mon ... can't we all throw paint around a canvas on the floor? Can you tell I'm getting really grumpy about this?

Let me try to set aside my problem with the artist for a bit. "Pollock" gives us Ed Harris in the title role -- he also directed this vanity project -- played the artist mostly as a drunk who nevertheless summoned all sorts of creative mojo. At his side as he makes it big and struggles with success is fellow artist Lee Krasner, played by Marcia Gay Harden.

I suppose Harden alone makes the movie worth seeing. She arrives on screen with spunk and is convincing throughout, both in how she nails the Brooklyn accent/attitude and her devotion to Pollock. I forget who she beat, but the Oscar she won for this role seems well-deserved.

As for Harris, I like him well enough -- you recall the recent "History of Violence" post -- and it's always good to see actors try the directing thing. But he might have tried to do too much here. I never really got the sense of why Pollock was an artist -- what it all means, I guess -- and the story overall wasn't entirely believable. His Pollock seemed kind of empty to me, not so much tortured, and the whole rise and fall needed more massaging and explanation to really punctuate Pollock's influence in the art world.

Ah yes ... the art. Let me just say this: You know how it looks like Pollock just dribbed paint and called it a painting? THAT'S WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED! Yeah, according to this movie, he simply spilled a little paint, liked the way it looked and started doing that full-time. Good lord ... were people that starved for something different? Was American art so bad? I guess we're just lucky he didn't look in the tissue after blowing his nose.


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