Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles: humans caring for art

 

 from the book: Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles  |  National Gallery of Australia

from the book: Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles  |  National Gallery of Australia

I was struck by the flurry of care in this image during the receipt of Jackson Pollock's pivotal painting, "Blue Poles" to the Brisbane Town Hall in 1974 - taken in the above photograph by an unseen person monitoring the scene from above the action.

Just to the inside of the door there are 7 men moving the painting inside the main area. One can think there are an equal number, if not more, on the other side of the door. Everywhere reporters and photographers are capturing the moment. I think about the creation of the wooden crate - the care that went into it to make sure this piece was not torn or ripped, dented or broken. The sheer weight of the crate. The amount of wood necessary to build a shell of protection. The amount of money, men assets it took to get it from the US to Australia. It had to cross in a plane? A boat? Was the temperature maintained to a perfect degree? How did the paint breath as it moved from climate to climate? How was this piece suspended in the wooden crate to ensure the canvas held?

Why do humans care so much for art? Art in itself is not going to provide shelter, food, water or sex - referencing Maslow's hierarchy here. Art is an opinion, a subjective statement - a way of life for some and a commodity to others. Though this painting is a historical look into a shifting of the way we perceived art at the time, it is still a mystery to some and a disgrace to others. It is something that has and always will cause controversy. The man who created it was plagued with depression and alcoholism, yet he had the grit to pursue his authentic vision.

What is it that as a collective consciousness we would take the care of such a thing that physically adds no value to our bodies?

How does art affect the human soul? What is it about a soul - this unnameable, intangible, untouchable thing that surges with emotion when coming in to contact with something so esoteric as a painting that we may intellectually never understand? At the time, his particular art represented a shift in a way of traditional painting and it was symbolic at the time to a pretty seismic shift in what was considered to be art. It became a captured image of energy and emotion caught in a jazz-like reference. There was little at the time to prepare for this explosion of energy, angst, color and splatter.

I go back now to why the above black and white photograph struck me. It made me proud and feel good about the inherent care that was provided to a dead man's vision. A relic that caused questions, controversy and open hatred. It meant that there was a select mindset that values art. Art that that elevated our human condition from a physical realm to a spiritual one. By taking care of art, it says that we value what we create. We support co-creation, the bringing into the world something that did not exist before. We value culture. As an artist, this made me content.

 

~ b

 

 detail from Blue Poles

detail from Blue Poles