Portrait and a Dream

Talking about possibilities in late Pollock—he undoubtedly went through difficult periods, as we all do, but to my eyes the work of the mid-fifties shows no slacking off. If he could have lightened up a bit I’m sure he would have found a lot to do. But again, we all, at times, get too heavy and serious. He should have embraced the decorative, light, wallpaperish quality of the drip paintings. Sure I can understand his unwillingness to let his work become mere decoration, and appreciate that he felt he had to dig deeper, but nothing is gained by opposing the work itself, as Pollock, in his better moments, undoubtedly knew. Other dimensions would have opened up, and I see at least two of them in Portrait and a Dream. First of all a bigger space, one in which the work, and his own subjectivity, could be objectified. That happens through the two part structure, and the two different approaches on the same canvas. Very literary.

Jackson Pollock, Portrait and a Dream 1953

Secondly, he could have made a tondo, or let the round configuration sit on a square of blank canvas. Sadly for him, Pollock was not a formalist, so he missed out on the pleasures of development. I think this large piece is very beautiful. Definitely not formalist, but not necessarily “expressionist” either.

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