Jackson Pollack Hardcover – 1 Jan 1998
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"On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four sides and be literally 'in' the painting." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Ellen G. Landau is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University, where she has taught since 1982. She is also the author of "Lee Krasner: A Catalogue Reaisonne," "Reading Abstract Expressionism," and "Artists for Victory," as well as many articles on twentieth-century American art. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
First published in 1989, this is a pretty comprehensive monograph; it has 270 illustrations, 105 of which are in colour with 6 gatefolds. The book is in landscape format which helps accommodate many of the images which share that presentation; the reproduction quality is pretty good and most of the images are of a fairly decent size, with a few comparative illustrations by other artists included where relevant.
The text is quite authoritative and narrates Pollock's difficult artistic development sympathetically and with a degree of insight, placing his influence in historical context with the culture of his times; my only real gripe is with Landau`s dismissal of the work of Janet Sobel, who`s all-over drip paintings not only preceeded Pollock's but by his own admission made an impression on him – surely by now this can be properly acknowledged?
At least Landau mentions her; perhaps someday Sobel will be credited as an interesting (if minor) artist in her own right and for the small part she played in the development of abstract expressionism.
This is a very recommendable book for anyone seeking to study the artist in any serious depth and also provides a good visual reference.
One other reviewer on this page seems more piqued with buying a book he found boring and I`m sorry that was his experience – at current prices second-hand or as a paperback it is a quite reasonable purchase.
As for the feature film “Pollock” I enjoyed it too; its good entertainment and captures the energy of Pollock's creative process; but it is to it's subject what “Lust for Life” is to Van Gogh - and there are good reasons why the Pollock-Krasner Foundation declined to involve itself with the project; I'll say no more on that.
Ok read the whole book now, basically its a waste of bloody money! £25 and all it tells you is who hes like who influenced him, it seems every person alive at the time and before influenced him, If I was alive at the time no doubt I would have influenced him to, Very little on his most famous paintings (Drip) it basically tells you how they got their name. I would recomment the DVD "Pollock" its so much better than this book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
And unlike the Varnedoe/Karmel book, this volume reprints these several kinds of works in close proximity, often on the same or a facing page, a useful feature. Landau's remarks about Pollock's sources, outcomes, growth and directions are always at least provocative and often really instructive, particularly in her coverage of the late black paintings. Indeed, Landau's analysis is regularly listed and praised in other authors' bibliographies.
The drawbacks of the book are its numerous poor reproductions, and plates after all make the primary reason for buying an artist monograph. Many of the plates are excellent and crisp--"Lucifer," "Pasiphae," "Autumn Rhythm," the colorful, playful works following Pollock's marriage. But too many of the plates and fold-outs are muddy, and Pollock's use of silver or aluminum paint is simply beyond this book's ability--as with the gaudy and over-exposed looking gatefold that opens the book. "Blue Poles" and "Stenographic Figure" are among the book's other poor reprints. Until I saw the Varnedoe/Karmel reprint of "One: Number 31, 1950," and then again in "person" at the MOMA, I just flatly didn't understand how Pollock had approached it. It looks "ok" in Landau, but with a lessened resolution that just slightly confuses the webbing throughout.
Still, I value the book and particularly its text. As for the reproduction quality, I did buy a second copy to cannibalize it; I've posted many laminated pages throughout my classroom. But I got that copy at remaindered prices. At full cost, this is a 3 1/2 or 4 star book. At bargain prices, the book rates 4 or 4 1/2 stars. Varnedoe/Karmel is just visually superior.
The narrative, divided into twelve chapters, is basically chronological. (Chapters are compact and can be read thoughtfully and leisurely in an hour or two.) Landau includes sufficient biographical information to help the reader appreciate the paintings. She doesn't ignore or minimize Pollock's alcoholism and character defects, neither does she dwell on them. The "evidence" and details concerning these matters are mostly confined to her extensive endnotes, along with expanded versions of key critics' comments on Pollock's work. Landau is cognizant of the influence of Thomas Hart Benton and gives it due attention(Readers who want to know more about the psychodynamics of the relationship between these two iconic American artists will want to read Henry Adams's Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock; see my Amazon review of that title). Readers with a lot of time on their hands who want a "womb to tomb" (to quote a favorite Pollock catch phrase) account of the artist's life are directed to Jackson Pollock: An American Saga.
Whatever biography you choose to read, you'll want Landau's book near at hand for the beautiful, detailed reproductions of Pollock's best-known paintings. The book's Selected Bibliography, unfortunately, includes only the works Landau consulted but did not cite in her notes. In other words, the reader will have to scour the notes to find other key works. (The bibliography in Adams's book is more recent, comprehensive, and reader-friendly).