Honestly, I don’t know a lot about Jackson Pollock but based off of my first impression, this painting–in a rather cathartic way–represents Pollock’s deeply rooted internal chaos. I suppose that’s what every one of his paintings represents in a way, given that they are all more or less in the same drip style and given that he had a very volatile personality fueled by alcohol and likely depression (thanks Wikipedia). Being someone that maybe doesn’t appreciate artwork like this as much as I probably should, I would imagine that his works such as this one, became so famous because they were able to capture the human experience in one large piece of canvas. This painting, much like life, is messy and dirty and sad and maybe a little bit ugly, but it’s perfect chaos. Everything is so messy that it all ends up fitting together in the best way possible. While the size of this painting is impressive, it doesn’t change what it represents for me; however, in person, I would probably end up focusing on a smaller chunk of the canvas because of it’s huge size and while I would probably still focus on this concept of perfect chaos, I would see it in a different light.
In a way, I think Nancy Sullivan and I are on the same page. I think what she’s saying through this poem is that works like this one by Pollock are cut and dry, but have the capability to mean something completely different to every person. There’s no BS with Pollock: what you see is what you see; what you think was going through Pollock’s head is what you think but there’s no telling what this painting means in the scope of the world, only in a personal scope. I feel like Sullivan really focuses on how disclosed Pollock’s work is. The “no name but a number” line, on top of the “no similes here” line on top of the “nothing but paint, such purity” notion all point to the same thing: don’t look to give this painting too much general meaning that’s not there. Don’t put ideas in other people’s heads about exactly what this painting must mean and don’t put words in Pollock’s mouth. The last two lines of Sullivan’s poem really enforce that notion of avoiding putting a definite meaning on an indefinite work; how could we know what this painting really means if we don’t know the reasoning behind it or what any single paint stroke means to Pollock?
Man, art is complicated.