Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jackson and Charles Pollock - VISIBLE ENERGY in Venice

Charles Pollock
Jack [Jackson Pollock], 1935
Smithsonian American Art Museum
(Venice, Italy) Before Peggy Guggenheim proclaimed that Jackson Pollock was "the greatest artist of the 20th century," his oldest brother, Charles, sketched him strumming a banjo at age 23. For it was Charles who first left the family of five brothers to head East to New York City to study painting, inspiring his siblings to follow in his footsteps.

Pollock family, Chico, California, ca. 1918
Sanford LeRoy, Charles Cecil, LeRoy, Stella, Frank Leslie, Marvin Jay, Paul Jackson.
Private collection
There is a Pollock Party going on over at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection with three exhibitions here in Venice -- JACKSON POLLOCK'S MURAL: ENERGY MADE VISIBLE, CHARLES POLLOCK: A RETROSPECTIVE and ALCHEMY BY JACKSON POLLOCK: DISCOVERING THE ARTIST AT WORK -- zapping the walls of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni with the visible energy of a mid-western American family that wrote poignant letters to each other as they struggled through two World Wars and a Depression, and rocked the art world to its core.

Jackson Pollock
Going West, ca. 1934-35
Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The Charles Pollock Retrospective puts his kid brother, Jackson, in an entirely different light. Charles was born on Christmas Day, 1902; he died in 1988. Jackson was born on January 28, 1912; he died in 1956. In between there were three more brothers, Marvin (1904-86), Frank (1907-94) and Sanford (1909-63). Whenever he was asked what he would like to be, Jackson would reply, "I want to be an artist like brother Charles."

Charles Pollock
Self-Portrait, 1930s
Private collection
LeRoy Pollock, their father, was born a McCoy whose mother and sister died when he was an infant, and whose father gave him to local farmers named Pollock. LeRoy supported his family with odd jobs: farming, working as a land surveyor and a dishwasher. Stella, their mother, was a talented seamstress and weaver. Both parents were amazingly encouraging and supportive of their sons; Charles described them both as "gentle" people. Touching letters and personal photos are sprinkled throughout the exhibit. Some of Stella's potholders are on display.

Stella Pollock’s potholders
I would suggest visiting the Charles Pollock Retrospective first, which winds its way through his life from figurative works to the abstract -- including what he worked on before and after Jackson crashed and died --and concludes with a video installation of how the haunting Alchemy by Jackson Pollock was restored, and new revelations about how the artist worked.

Jackson Pollock
Murale / Mural, 1943
The University of Iowa Museum of Art, gift of Peggy Guggenheim
Then head over to the main palazzo where you will find the famous Mural that Peggy Guggenheim commissioned for her townhouse in 1943 -- the largest painting that Jackson Pollock ever created -- which "has exerted a seismic impact on American art down to the present day" in the same room as the real-life Alchemy blazing with restored colors. 

Jackson and Charles Pollock, New York, 1930
Private collection
After visiting the excellent exhibitions, I think there would have been no Jackson Pollock without brother Charles first hacking down the brambles along the path. 

JACKSON POLLOCK'S MURAL: ENERGY MADE VISIBLE
April 23 – November 16, 2015
Curated by David Anfam

CHARLES POLLOCK: A RETROSPECTIVE
April 23 – September 14, 2015
Curated by Philip Rylands

ALCHEMY BY JACKSON POLLOCK. DISCOVERING THE ARTIST AT WORK
February 14 – September 14, 2015
Curated by Luciano Pensabene and Roberto Bellucci

Go to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

3 comments:

  1. Before Peggy Guggenheim proclaimed that Jackson Pollock was "the greatest artist of the 20th century," his oldest brother, Charles, sketched him strumming a banjo at age 23. For it was Charles who first left the family of five brothers to head East to New York City to study painting, inspiring his siblings to follow in his footsteps.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you! You brought tears to my eyes. Francesca (Charles' daughter).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Francesca - Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me. I fell in love with your father's work, and am happy that he is finding his place in the history of American art that he justifiably deserves. Cat Bauer

    ReplyDelete

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