Thursday, November 16, 2006

Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?

Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? is a documentary about Teri Horton, a truck driver from California who buys a painting in a thrift store for $5 and quickly because convinced that the painting is an actual Pollock.

But this is only the short version.

Horton (who does not know the first thing about painting) ends up spending ten years trying to prove that the painting was created by Jackson Pollock.

I thought this would be the most fluffy film humanly possible. It ended up being like a train wreck that I couldn't look away from. Intentionally or not, director Harry Moses really puts egg on the face of the art world. The film shows the American myth that art is largely a luxury reserved for the (very) rich. It is clear that while we empathise with Horton, she is a poor (literally) fool in a less than savory hick town. Meanwhile, the New York art world, which is knowledgable and glamourous, comes off as snobby, riduculous, and self-important. I guess this isn't exactly news to anyone, but it's hilarous how readily willing they are to show how mean and demeaning they are. As Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, says: "She knows nothing. I am an expert. She's not." Ironically, Hoving dismisses completely the idea that forensics can prove Pollock did the work. He insists that a painting must have either a paper trail or a signature, but he accepts these are often faked. Huh?

Horton, herself, claims that she won't sell the painting for an offered 2 million dollars "on principal." She says she "knows the painting's worth," and clearly, she doesn't want to come off as a hick who is taken for a ride by the art world, which she (and the viewer, if they're sane) come to despise. This point of view seems so admirable.

However, a few scenes later when Horton tells her team of invester to "just sell it," you realize she's no better than any of the others. As the ex-con Horton hires to help sell the the painting say, "It's all about money."

Yep. You got that right!

As my Jim pointed out (though he didn't see the film, he's actually got, well....a JOB) Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? brings into question the entire idea of name brand art. What if Monet does a painting and Joe-Smoe does a painting? What is they are equally beautiful? What if Joe's is better? This is irrelevant...Monet's name isn't attached to it, so it's worthless.

How did art become, well, like Nikes and Phat Farm?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The answer to that last question is simply, money. Gallery owners are merely shopkeepers. Without artists, they'd be trolling renaissance fairs looking for second-rate knockoff suits of armor to pawn at cheesy boutiques. The tragedy is that the artists have the least amount of power in this relationship.

Duchamp was right when he advocated for artists to go underground, for that is the only true way to make art.