Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lee Krasner: A Catalogue Raisonne by Ellen G. Landau

I love Ed Harris' movie, Pollock.

I've watched it so many times, I've lost track. And sometimes I'll put it on the DVD player while I work, just to listen to it. I even have the soundtrack CD. Jeff Beal's music is wonderful.

The movie is a sketch of the life of the man ... and really a sketch of the last 14 years or so of his life, once he meets and marries Lee Krasner, and makes it HUGE in the art world. It's a moving film.

There are several moments that still make me cry even after seeing them like a dozen times ... Harris depicts moments (himself as Pollock) where Pollock just freaks out -- and those emotionally raw moments are just frightening. Was Pollock manic-depressive? Was he chemically unbalanced? Was he just spiritually lost within the sin of mankind and crying out for help? The moments are just so gripping because I know those moments, only too well from my younger days. Those days where all you can do is curl up in a ball on your bed or cry/scream and your emotions are on a hair trigger and you just. feel. lost.
Watching those terrible moments and understanding what he could have been feeling always makes me extremely grateful ... Sometimes being an artist and having so much easy access to emotional information to do ones work is sometimes also an easy way to an emotional overload.

I have struggled with being a Christian and an artist because sometimes they seemed to be vocations at odds with each other. But I have struggled to reconcile with them, because I have tried to give both up at different points in my life, and simply could not. I was not myself when I did, so I found I had to reconcile them, somehow. For me, I was finally only rescued out of that emotional spiral once I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord. Taking that particular step (which is actually another step past taking the "Jesus is my Savior" step) was like girding my emotional self with a safety harness of some kind, where I now won't tumble into the Hole of Hell.

When I shared with one of my sisters how much I loved the movie Pollock, she bought me Lee Krasner: A Catalogue Raisonne, which is an astonishing and thorough collection of Lee Krasner's artwork. Lee was Jackson Pollock's wife, and quite a surprisingly talented artist herself before and after she married him, and after his death.

I finally sat with this book recently, and read it through, including all the prose/history bits. I was really impressed by the scope of her work and with how intensely she worked. People coudl so easily dismiss her as "Pollock's wife" and that is being terribly unfair. She was an Abstract Expressionist ... and I found several periods of her work (her vertical collages from '53 - '54, a set of simple, bold flowery shaped paintings from '72- '73, just for starters) really appealing.

I think many women artists, within art in general and within comics specifically, struggle with whether we could possibly become "as great" or really, simply as accomplished as men artists often are in their own art work, both in sheer volume of output and in skill level ...

I think some of us -- I know I do, anyway -- struggle with the love, time and attention needed to create the artwork in the first place ... which we may feel is better spent on people. Creating artwork is a very solitary job. But it's also a fine line we tread ... since this love and attention should never be confused with idolizing the artwork that's being created, which I think some artists can do. Rather than idolizing, this emotional investment is being sensitive to and respectful of the souls of other people, those who share in the work when they observe the art, since most of them will innately be able to pick up on the emotions poured into the art by the artist ...

Ms. Landau's catalog of Ms. Krasner's work was very good (Krasner was the subject of her PH.D. dissertation). So few female artists gain the high-profile name recognition as males artists do, that seeing a woman having created such a large body of artwork is encouraging to me. I hope to root out Ms. Landau's book on Pollock as well ...

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